Israeli army opens fire on West Bank protesters in Ramallah, killing at least three

A general strike has been called across the occupied West Bank in solidarity with the people of Gaza

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Three Palestinians died after being shot by Israeli troops and at least 64 others were injured in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday during a national strike over the offensive in Gaza.

The Israeli army used live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets on demonstrators in Ramallah and Bethlehem.

The incidents took place during a march by Palestinians against Israeli air strikes on Gaza, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

The strike is not a goal in and of itself but a way to shed light on the reality on the ground

One of the dead was identified as Mohammad Hamidah, 25, who was shot in the chest near the entrance of Al Bireh, near Ramallah.

A second person died of a gunshot wound in the chest and a third died from a gunshot wound in the head.

At least 25 people in Ramallah sustained gunshot injuries and eight required surgery.

The Israeli military said two soldiers were injured by gunfire during the unrest.

Clashes erupt in West Bank as Palestinians go on strike

Clashes erupt in West Bank as Palestinians go on strike

The ruling Fatah party, which is headquartered in Ramallah and is headed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, called for peaceful strikes and protests which would include the closure of "all economic, commercial and educational establishments" in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, according to the official Wafa news agency.

Shops were shuttered in the streets of Jerusalem's old city, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus and other parts of the Palestinian territories on Tuesday during the nationwide strikes as demonstrators carried signs in solidarity with the people of Gaza and waving Palestinian flags.

Speaking to The National, one of the strike's organisers Issam Bakr said: "The strike is not a goal in and of itself but a way to shed light on the reality on the ground. It is a message of unity among Palestinians wherever they may be living, in their stance against the occupation and the massacre in Gaza".

He and other protesters were marching towards the Israeli settlement of Beit El near Ramallah.

"Although largely peaceful, the marches are expected to turn violent if the Israeli army disperses demonstrators," he said at the start of the demonstrations.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that at least 46 people were injured by live ammunition, tear gas inhalation and rubber bullets fired by Israeli forces.

Over a week of Israeli raids on Gaza have so far killed 212 Palestinians, including 61 children, and Hamas strikes on Israel have claimed 10 lives in Israel. At least 3,150 rockets had been fired into Israel as of Monday, and more than 820 targets had been hit by Israel in Gaza, according to the Israeli military.

The ensuing #StrikeForPalestine and Arabic version of the hashtag were trending on Twitter and other social media platforms on Tuesday.

One of the Arabic hashtags was shared over 18,000 times and the English term shared almost 200,000 times as of Tuesday 1pm local time, according to social media monitoring tool Brand Mentions.

The Arab High Follow-Up Committee, an umbrella organisation representing Arab-Israelis, supported the strike which it said was in protest against “obsessive arrests conducted by the Israeli police and intelligence units against activists”.

The committee called on protesters to remain "peaceful" and urged the immediate release of political prisoners.

Yara Hawari, a senior fellow at the Al Shabaka Palestinian policy network said the strikes were aimed at maintaining "the unprecedented moment of popular resistance" among the Palestinians.

Outspoken Sheikh Jarrah resident Mohammed Kurd said there was an underlying sense of unity among the strikers, and the protest brought together Palestinians for one cause.

“This heartwarming national unity proves that colonial borders are only effective in the minds of the colonisers,” he wrote on Twitter.

In the West Bank city of Nablus the atmosphere was tense as transport services were halted, including taxis and inter-city buses, and streets remained empty while residents observed the strike. A demonstration began at around 5pm local time.

Academic and activist Saed Abu Hijleh recorded a live video on Facebook showing men, women and children holding signs, carrying flags and chanting pro-Palestinian slogans.

The latest outbreak of violence began in East Jerusalem last month, when Palestinians clashed with police in response to aggressive Israeli police crackdowns on gatherings of worshippers during Ramadan, around the Al Aqsa mosque. Tensions were further inflamed by the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers.

Hamas began firing rockets towards Jerusalem last Monday, triggering the Israeli assault on Gaza.

Hospitals in Gaza have reached about 70 per cent of capacity, as the besieged enclave tends to those wounded in the bombardment, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Major damage to its water pipelines has also resulted in an over 40 per cent deficit in supplies.  Sewage water was spilling out onto populated areas, especially in the north of Gaza.

Emergency response teams were unable to conduct urgent maintenance works in the affected areas due to fear for the safety of the technical teams, the continuous bombardment, or a lack of access to the infrastructure, Unicef told The National.

Households are already being affected with as little as three to four hours' worth of water and electricity to none at all in some areas.

Medical centres, despite having their own limited water supplies, are feeling the crunch of the fuel and power shortages, which is much needed for 24-hour operations as Gaza's only power plant is under threat of complete shut down within days, said Mohammed Thabet, spokesman of Gaza's Electricity Distribution Company.