Palestinians marked a general strike and a day of mourning on Saturday over the death of 15 Palestinians by Israeli gunfire during rallies demanding the right of return to refugees.
Shops across the occupied West Bank shuttered their doors, universities and schools suspended their classes and most businesses observed the general strike.
At least 15 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were martyred and hundreds injured when Israeli forces opened fire on protesters marking “Land Day”, an annual Palestinian commemoration of the deaths of six Arab citizens of Israel killed by Israeli forces in 1976 during demonstrations over government land confiscations in northern Israel.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared Saturday a day of mourning over Friday’s deaths.
“Palestinian factions have responded to the president’s decision to declare mourning for the victims of the Israeli massacre,” Wasel Abu Yusuf, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s executive committee, told Anadolu Agency.
“The national and Islamic forces declared a general strike in all Palestinian areas and called for demonstrations to protest the Israeli massacre against our people in Gaza,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip on Saturday buried the bodies of six protesters martyred by Israeli gunfire a day earlier.
Nine demonstrators had been laid to rest in the Palestinian enclave on Friday.
Friday’s rallies were the start of a six-week protest that culminates on May 15, the day the Palestinians call as “Nakba”, or “Catastrophe”, when Israel was created.
The demonstrators are demanding that Palestinian refugees be allowed the right of return to towns and villages which their families fled from, or were driven out of, when the state of Israel was created in 1948.