Most shops, restaurants, government institutions and schools across the West Bank were closed on Thursday as part of a general strike in support of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.Medical institutions and high schools did not participate in the general strike.“Many of us have been in Israeli prisons and almost all of us have family members there,” Mahzouz Shlalda, a middle school teacher from Sair, a village near Hebron, said in a telephone interview. “Striking is the least we can do to send a message to the prisoners that we stand with them.”
The prisoners, led by Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted of five counts of murder, are demanding that the Israel Prison Service end solitary confinement and administrative detention, increase family visitation rights and improve medical care and amenities. Israel holds that conditions are in line with international standards. The general strike was called by Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank, on Sunday.Fatah also called on Palestinians to take the streets on Friday as a part of a “day of rage” in support of the prisoners.Maan, a Palestinian news agency, reported that Fatah is urging Palestinians “to clash with the occupier at all friction points.”The Palestinian Authority security forces normally block Palestinian protesters from reaching friction points with the IDF. It is unclear what their policy will be this Friday.
Palestinian prisoners in Israel prepare for a massive hunger strike. (Reuters)