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Palestinians hold strike in Gaza against Bahrain conference

Palestinians in Gaza launched a general strike on Tuesday. [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 June, 2019

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Palestinians in Gaza launched a general strike on Tuesday, with stores and public institutions shuttering in protest of the Trump administration's conference in Bahrain.

Palestinians in Gaza launched a general strike on Tuesday, with stores and public institutions shuttering in protest of the US-led conference in Bahrain, which focuses on the economic section of the White House's plan for Mideast peace.

Gaza's Hamas rulers have called for mass protests across the besieged coastal enclave on Wednesday, the second day of the gathering.

A black-and-white banner declaring a strike replaced the usually illuminated billboard over Gaza City's central Omar al-Mukhtar street.

Residents of the impoverished territory, where unemployment exceeds 50 percent, voiced opposition to the $50 billion Palestinian investment and infrastructure proposal, which does not deal with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank or blockade of Gaza.

Physician Said Jadba says: "We don't need money. We are not hungry for bread. We are hungry for dignity."

The Palestinian Authority has rejected President Donald Trump's peace proposal and is boycotting the workshop in Bahrain, where the Trump administration's Middle East peace team hopes to drum up regional support and secure financial pledges from Arab and Israeli stakeholders.

Accusing the US of unfairly favouring Israel, Palestinians say an economic component can't pre-empt a political settlement.

There are serious doubts about the feasibility of the proposal, which does not address the half-century-old Israeli military occupation that has severely restricted the West Bank's economic and infrastructural growth.

Israel blocks Gaza fuel supply

Earlier on Tuesday Israel blocked fuel deliveries to the Gaza Strip, citing new incendiary balloons from the besieged enclave.

The move follows "the release of arson balloons from the Gaza Strip toward the State of Israel" which caused fires across the border, the Israeli defence ministry department responsible for Palestinian civil affairs said.

Fuel transfers were halted at the Kerem Shalom goods crossing on Tuesday morning and would remain blocked "until further notice", COGAT said in a statement.

Fuel deliveries, which are coordinated with the United Nations and paid for by Gulf state Qatar, were agreed in late 2018 as part of a truce agreement between Israel and Hamas. 

They have improved electricity supply in the strip, where residents currently receive around 12 hours of power a day, according to the UN. 

Before the deal, the daily power supply was regularly as low as six hours.

Israel has maintained a crippling blockade of Gaza for more than a decade, which critics label as collective punishment of Gaza's two million residents.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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