RAMALLAH, West Bank — Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel stopped work for the day on Tuesday, as did other Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and in Gaza, protesting violence against Arab Israelis, the unfolding Israeli military campaign targeting Hamas militants in Gaza and the looming eviction of several families from their homes in East Jerusalem.
Streets were deserted in Arab areas across both Israel and the occupied territories, as shopkeepers shuttered stores along the waterfront in Jaffa, in central Israel; the steep roads of Umm el-Fahm, an Arab town in northern Israel; and West Bank cities such as Hebron, Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah.
Demonstrators gathered instead in central squares, waving Palestinian flags, listening to speeches and chanting against Israeli policies. Outside Ramallah, a group of Palestinians who had gathered separately from the protesters set fires on a major thoroughfare and later exchanged gunfire with Israeli soldiers, officials said.
Since hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in 1948, they have been divided not only by geography, but also by lived experience.
told The New York Times last month: “To allege that Israeli policies are motivated by racism is both baseless and outrageous, and belittles the very real security threats posed by Palestinian terrorists to Israeli civilians.”
But many Palestinians on either side of the boundary between Israel and the occupied territories say they are the victims of the same system of oppression — one that operates with varying degrees of intensity, and offers Arabs varying degrees of freedom, but ultimately seeks to assert Jewish supremacy wherever that system is in force.
“We’re one big family,” said Enass Tinah, a 46-year-old researcher at the Ramallah protest. “It’s the same suffering.”
Some did not participate in the strike — including health workers in northern Israel, who felt they had a moral need to keep working, and the Arab residents of Abu Ghosh, a town west of Jerusalem known for its good relations between Arabs and Jews.