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Palestinians strike over Israeli manhunt in al-Quds refugee camp amid siege

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Shops are shuttered in the Old City of al-Quds as Palestinians go on a strike on October 12, 2022 over a days-long operation by Israeli forces in Shuafat refugee camp after a soldier was shot dead. (Photo by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa)

Palestinians have launched a general strike in the occupied East al-Quds in protest against a siege by Israeli troops as they hunt for a suspected gunman in connection with the killing of an 18-year-old Israeli soldier at a checkpoint over the weekend.

On Wednesday, schools and businesses remained closed in the Old City and along the main commercial street of the city's eastern area, bringing life to a grinding halt and sparking fresh tensions. 

Students at Birzeit University, in the Ramallah area, boycotted classes in solidarity with the protesters, according to reports. The city of Nablus, in the northern occupied West Bank, also observed a general strike. 

It follows the killing of an Israeli soldier on Saturday at a checkpoint near Shuafat Palestinian refugee camp, which was followed by a massive manhunt for the suspected attacker, who remains at large.

The Israeli military on Sunday identified the slain soldier as Noa Lazar, adding that three other soldiers were also wounded, one seriously.

Entrances to the refugee camp have been mostly shut, while days-long raids have affected schools and healthcare.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which supports the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees, said the violence and extra checkpoints had prompted it to close its schools and healthcare center in the camp.

Local residents say the situation is tense there on the ground, as heavily armed Israeli forces clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians.

Arab-Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi said the Israeli manhunt amounted to “collective punishment.”

“Sick people are not able to get outside to be treated, bakeries are empty, some physicians and doctors and nurses were not able to get in,” he said during a visit to the camp on Tuesday.

Moreover, Israeli forces have attacked Palestinians protesting the Israeli siege on Shuafat refugee camp and nearby ‘Anata town, northeast of al-Quds, for the fifth consecutive day.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that clashes broke out in the town of al-Ram, which lies northeast of al-Quds, as Israeli forces fired teargas canisters, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters.

Similar skirmishes erupted near the northern entrance to al-Bireh city on Wednesday, reports said.

Earlier in the day, a 22-year-old youth was struck in the eye, after Israeli forces attacked Palestinians, who were protesting at the northern entrance to Bethlehem, and opened fire on them.

Israeli forces have recently been conducting overnight raids and killings in the northern occupied West Bank, mainly in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, where new groups of Palestinian resistance fighters have been formed.

More than 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the Israeli-occupied territories since the start of the year, including 51 in the besieged Gaza Strip during Israel’s three-day onslaught in August.

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