Cross-border fighting between Israel and Hamas appeared to abate slightly early on Tuesday, with no fatalities logged in Gaza for the first time since hostilities erupted on May 10, and fewer long-range Palestinian rocket attacks.
But a call by U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday in support of a ceasefire appeared to go unheeded. Israel said it would press on, for now, with an offensive to destroy the capabilities of the armed factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad and rocket attacks continued.
The United States and other world powers have been pushing for an end to the fiercest escalation in the conflict in years, in which Gaza officials say 212 Palestinians, including 61 children and 36 women, have been killed.
There was no immediate word of Israeli casualties on Tuesday. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children, in previous Palestinian rocket or missile attacks.
General strikes were held Tuesday in East Jerusalem, Arab towns within Israel and in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, with posts on social media bearing a Palestinian flag and urging solidarity “from the sea to the river”.
Palestinian businesses across East Jerusalem were shuttered ,including in the walled Old City, and in the mixed Jewish-Arab port city of Haifa in northern Israel, protest organiser Raja Zaatar told Reuters the strike had closed 90% of businesses in Arab neighbourhoods.
Ra’afat al-Saman, a business owner in East Jerusalem’s Salahaddin street, named after the Muslim conqueror who seized Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187, said he supported the strike.
“I think that people are more aware now. They close their businesses, they go to Al-Aqsa and to the streets, there are now more activities during a strike. In the past, people would go on strike and sit at home. I think that people are now more aware of the concept of a strike,” he said.
Hamas began its rocket assault last Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the city’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Yuval Steinitz, an Israeli cabinet minister from Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, deplored the strike as “another blow to the delicate fabric of relations and cooperation between Jews and Arabs” in an Army Radio interview.