Palestinians across occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza strike in solidarity with Arab Israelis protesting Israel's controversial nation state law which declares only Jews have the right of self-determination in Israel.

A Palestinian man walks past closed shops during a general strike in support of an Israeli-Arab protest against the 'Jewish Nation-State Law' in the old city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank on October 1, 2018.
A Palestinian man walks past closed shops during a general strike in support of an Israeli-Arab protest against the 'Jewish Nation-State Law' in the old city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank on October 1, 2018. (AFP)

Palestinians observed a general strike on Monday across the occupied West Bank and Gaza in solidarity with Arab citizens of Israel over a contentious law that defines Israel as a Jewish state.

Leaders of Israel's Arab community have called for their private sector to strike against the recently-passed Nation State Law, which declares that only Jews have the right of self-determination in Israel.

The streets of Ramallah and other West Bank cities were largely empty on Monday as schools, universities, government offices and private business were closed. Public transportation also wasn't available.

Fierce criticism 

The law has come under fierce criticism at home and abroad and has provoked anger among the 1.8 million Palestinian Arabs who make up a fifth of Israel's 9 million citizens.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hastily set up a committee to propose new legislation to mollify the law's critics but no amendments have been enacted since the its passage in July shortly before Parliament went on its summer recess. 

It will reconvene in the middle of October.

Mohammed Barakeh, a former Israeli lawmaker who heads a committee that monitors Israeli policy concerning Israel's Arabs, said the strike had been called in coordination with groups in the Palestinian territories.

"The strike is a message to the world that the cause of apartheid and racism is something that should not only be dealt with internally but it should be talked about globally," Barakeh said.

A Palestinian man walks past closed shops during a general strike in support of an Israeli-Arab protest against Israel's Nation State Law, in Khan Younis in southern Gaza October 1, 2018.
A Palestinian man walks past closed shops during a general strike in support of an Israeli-Arab protest against Israel's Nation State Law, in Khan Younis in southern Gaza October 1, 2018. (Reuters)

Deadline for Bedouin village nears

Meanwhile, residents of a Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar in the occupied West Bank are facing demolition after Israeli authorities asked them to clear their houses by October 1. 

Khan al-Ahmar consists of tin and wood shacks built on a desert hillside beside an Israeli highway that runs from occupied Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.

Israel plans to demolish the village and relocate its 180 residents –– Bedouins who scrape a living by raising sheep and goats –– to a site 12 kilometres away, near the Palestinian village of Abu Dis and adjacent to a landfill site.

The move has drawn criticism from Palestinians and some European states, who cite the impact on the community and prospects for peace.

A spokeswoman for Israel's military liaison agency with the Palestinians said no date had been set for demolition should the houses remain after the deadline.

Last week, Israeli forces handed out letters telling residents to voluntarily take down the buildings by Monday or Israeli authorities would enforce the demolition orders.

'We refuse to be moved'

"We will not voluntarily evacuate the place," said village resident Faisal Abu Dahuk.

"The occupation forces that have an army and weapons can evacuate us by force, but there is no other place to go and we refuse to be moved anywhere else."

Israel's Supreme Court has rejected petitions to prevent the move, siding with the authorities, saying the village was built without the required permits. 

Palestinians say such documents are impossible to obtain.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies