On Tuesday (18 May 2021) Palestinians across Gaza, the West Bank, occupied territories and within Israel itself, participated in a General Strike, protesting the ongoing occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israeli Occupation Forces, on behalf of the Israeli state. This General Strike, which was organised on extremely short notice, with initial calls to action circulating on social media on the 16th and 17th further highlighted Israel’s reliance on the exploitation of Palestinian workers.
Activists from the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement also placed stickers on products across retailers in Israel and occupied territories reading “Donate to the Israeli Army by purchasing this product” in protest, encouraging the boycott of goods produced in and with ties to Israel. This is part of the ongoing campaign to see the Boycott of Israeli goods, and Divestment and Sanctioning of Israel’s economy, as a means to pressure the Israeli state to cease the occupation of East Jerusalem.
The Israeli Builders Association said that only 150 of 65,000 Palestinian workers did not observe the general strike, with the cranes and construction coming to a standstill in Beit Shemesh, a popular site for development. It is estimated this paralysis of the sector cost employers around $40 Million. The strike was also felt by users of public transport, with around 10% of bus drivers participating in the action, according to the Israeli Transportation Ministry. Almost 300 journeys were cancelled by Egged, who operate around 35% of Israel’s public transport services. Other major transport operators also warned of delays and cancellations.
There have been instances of employers dismissing Palestinian workers, upon them informing their employer they would be participating in the industrial action via WhatsApp, with some even engaging in political debate, even going so far as to call the workers traitors to Israel. These cases of abrupt dismissal are being documented by groups such as Palestinian Lawyers Inside Israel on behalf those affected. Despite this, the General Strike appears to have been greatly successful with on the ground videos and reports of many restaurants, stores and other businesses closed due to the action.
Working people across the world should take inspiration from this General Strike which has proven debilitating to Israeli Industry, and only goes to further highlight the strength that the workers can have with very shorthand organisation en masse.
Here in Britain we must also display our solidarity for our Palestinian comrades by applying pressure through means of BDS against the Israeli internationally while brutal occupation and ethnic cleansing continues.
We must continue building demonstrations across and to share hashtags and posts on social media, especially since the levelling of the Associated Press building in Gaza in attempt to regain control of the information leaving the region by Israel, it is imperative that we do all that we can to further expose and retain focus surrounding the true nature of the apartheid state of Israel and its heinous war crimes
Jamie McDonald, is a member of the YCL’s London District