Palestinians stage strike to protest settlement plans in al-Khalil
Palestinians have staged mass rally in the southern province of al-Khalil (Hebron)in the occupied West Bank expressing strong protest against an Israeli plan to expand its settlements in the heart of al-Khalil.
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The strike, which had been called for by the Fatah party, began from Monday morning, and according to the Palestine Information Center, “paralyzed” all aspects of life.
The protest action hit schools and universities, markets and shops, government institutions and municipalities, throughout the province, added the center’s report.
On December 1, Israel's Minister for Military Affairs Naftali Bennett announced a controversial plan to construct a new Israeli settlement in the place of a wholesale market complex in the Old City of al-Khalil.
According to the Israeli minister, the planned project would “double” the number of Israeli settlers in the city, which is a flash point of clashes between Palestinians and settlers.
Hundreds of Israeli settlers, backed by tens of thousands of soldiers, have already occupied significant parts of the city center, and they harass the Palestinians in the city on an almost daily basis.
The strike is also intended to protest Israel’s appropriation of a Palestinian house in the city and the Judaization activities taking place at the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Revered by both Muslims and Jews, the holy site complex is believed to mark the burial sites of Prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Following a massacre of Palestinian worshipers by an extremist settler in 1994, the complex was divided between Muslim and Jewish worshipers.
However, the Israeli military almost regularly closes the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslim worshipers and allows extremist settlers to enter the whole sacred site to observe their rituals.
The West Bank-based Fatah, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, also called for performing the noon prayer in the Ibrahimi Mosque on Monday.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.