Contributed by Jim Hayes
As US president Donald Trump landed in Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, for talks with his Israeli counterpart Benyamin Netanyahu, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank staged a general strike in support of political prisoners on hunger strike in Israel’s jails that has now entered it day 37.
The Palestinian prisoners’ affairs committee also called for a “day of rage” when Donald Trump visits Bethlehem for “the voice of the prisoners to be heard by the president.”
Palestinian organisations issued a statement, calling for “unity and assimilation with our brave prisoners,” slammed Washington for supporting the Israeli occupation and called on the Palestinian public to join the action in a bid to reject a possible resumption of talks with Israel under the US sponsorship.
Roads were blocked, government offices closed, there was no public transport and thoroughfares in Palestinian cities sat empty, marking almost total involvement by the population.
The temporary relaxing some travel restrictions and some other measures have been largely dismissed as a propaganda effort to pave the way for Trump’s visit.
Informed sources say the heath conditions of the Palestinian inmates refusing food has deteriorated, with some of them being taken to hospital.
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities continue to prevent access to the hunger strikers and keep them isolated from other prisoners.
Since April 17, more than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners have gone on hunger strike to demand appropriate medical care and treatment in Israeli jails as well as the right to pursue higher education.
They are also calling for an end to Israeli denial of family visits, solitary confinement and the so-called administrative detention, which is a form of imprisonment without trial or charge.
International organisations have called for pressure on the Tel Aviv regime to heed the inmates’ demands.
Ma’an reported clashes between Palestinian youths and Israelis in the West Bank city of Nablus. Local sources said the scuffles broke out after hundreds of Israeli settlers, backed by regime forces, raided Nablus to hold a religious event at the site of Joseph’s Tomb. At least 20 Palestinians were shot or injured by other means. Seven were shot with live fire, and 10 were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, medical sources said. Israeli soldiers fired at the demonstrators from rooftops overlooking the main street.
The hunger strike has been accompanied by an escalation of demonstrations throughout the occupied territories, as well as solidarity demonstrations around the world demanding that Israeli authorities meet the demands of the striking prisoners.
Ayman Odeh, leader of the Join List coalition that represents Palestinian citizens of Israel at Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, issued a message to Trump, in which he offered three “basic truths” about Israel and the occupied territory “that every first-time visitor should know.”
“I know you appreciate alternative facts. Well, you came to the right place,” Odeh said in the video, published by Israeli news site Haaretz on Saturday.
Odeh first mocked Netanyahu for publicly claiming to support the two-state solution, despite being a staunch supporter of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territory. “For Bibi, when it comes to occupation, the best deal is no deal,” Odeh said, using a nickname for the Israeli prime minister.
He also recommended that Trump visit the Negev region, “where 100,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel live with no infrastructure for water or electricity, no paved roads, and no healthcare system.”
“So, while you two are trading tips for racist campaigns and legislation, know this: We, the Palestinian minority in Israel, together with many Jewish partners, will continue fighting for a future of peace, equality, and democracy.”
Video from Haaretz
Ayman Odeh ridicules Donald Trump on eve of his visit