Palestinians in Jerusalem, West Bank heed terror group's call for general strike

Clashes erupt near the closed-off Shuafat checkpoint as Palestinians throw stones and policemen respond with tear gas and rubber bullets.

 Police arrest a man at the scene of stabbing attack near near Modi'in, on September 22, 2022 (photo credit: FLASH90)
Police arrest a man at the scene of stabbing attack near near Modi'in, on September 22, 2022
(photo credit: FLASH90)

Palestinians on Wednesday observed a one-day general strike in protest at the closure of Shuafat Refugee Camp and its surrounding neighborhoods since the shooting attack in which IDF soldier Noa Lazar was killed.

The camp, which is located within the municipal boundaries of the Jerusalem Municipality, has been sealed off by Israeli security forces since last Saturday night’s attack, in which another security guard was severely wounded. Since then, hundreds of police officers have been conducting a manhunt for the shooter, whose identity is known.

According to Palestinian sources, some 130,000 Palestinians live in Shuafat camp and the nearby neighborhoods of Ras Khamis and Dahiyet al-Salam, which are also located within the Jerusalem Municipality borders.

The vast majority of those who live in the three areas are permanent residents of Jerusalem – a status that affords them the same privileges as Israeli citizens, with the exception of voting for the Knesset. They are entitled to travel to any part of the country, unlike Palestinians living under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, who need permits to enter Israel.

The general strike was called by the Nablus-based militia Lions’ Den, whose members have carried out a series of shooting attacks against IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens in the last few weeks.

 PALESTINIAN LAWYERS protest against the Palestinian Authority’s rule by decree and demand a return to normal parliamentary lawmaking, in Ramallah last week. (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS) PALESTINIAN LAWYERS protest against the Palestinian Authority’s rule by decree and demand a return to normal parliamentary lawmaking, in Ramallah last week. (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

Dozen of Palestinians protesting the closure

Dozens of Palestinians held noon prayers near the checkpoint at the entrance to the camp and called for the closure to be lifted. Clashes erupted during the day between Palestinian rock-throwers and policemen, who responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

On Tuesday night, dozens of Palestinians living in the area, which despite being under Israeli control, is located behind the security barrier, met in the camp and declared “civil disobedience” to protest against the restrictions and frequent police raids in search of the terrorist.

Residents said that thousands of people living in the area have not been able to go to work or send their children to school because of the closure. Many Palestinians living in the area work in Israel.

Several Palestinian factions have condemned the Israeli measures as “collective punishment” and called for holding protests in solidarity with residents of the area located between northern Jerusalem’s French Hill and Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhoods. Hamas called on Palestinians to converge on the area to “break the siege.”

Adherence to the strike is a sign of the growing popularity among Palestinians of the Lions’ Den. Hamas also called on Palestinians to converge on the area to “break the siege.”

The group, meanwhile, denied that it belongs to, or coordinates with, any Palestinian faction. The denial came in response to unconfirmed reports that the Lions’ Den is funded and armed by Hamas. The group also denied that its members were in dispute with any Palestinian faction or the PA security forces. It has also threatened to target what they termed as “settlers” if they “storm” Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.