What is the global strike demanding an end to Israeli war on Gaza?

Activists and grassroot organisations worldwide are striking on Monday to protest Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators display signs during a protest in the United States.
Demonstrators display signs calling for a ceasefire during a protest in Massachusetts [Steven Senne/AP]

Palestinian organisations and grassroot activists have called for a worldwide strike on Monday demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which has been devastated by more than two months of Israeli bombardment.

Nearly 18,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli bombings since October 7. Israel says it is targeting Hamas fighters who carried out an attack in Israel that killed more than 1,000 people.

But rights groups say that Israel has used disproportionate force in the besieged enclave of 2.3 million people, killing overwhelmingly civilians.

What is the global strike?

Palestinians and supporters across the world plan to take part in a global strike involving “all aspects of public life” to express solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza and call for an end to Israeli bombardment.

People have been urged to skip school and work. Additionally, people striking are staying home and refraining from going out to restaurants, banks and stores. They are also not making any online transactions or shopping online.

In an Instagram post, Palestinian filmmaker Bisan Owda called for a strike from “economic life and daily movement”. Like Owda, many activists and organisations from Palestine and elsewhere have made similar posts on different social media platforms, some using the hashtag #StrikeForGaza.

Who is behind the strike and why?

The call for the strike was announced by Palestinian National and Islamic forces, a coalition of major Palestinian factions.

“This movement stands against the open genocide in Gaza, the ethnic cleansing and the colonial settlement in the West Bank,” said a statement released by the coalition. “The strike also opposes attempts to undermine the just national cause of the Palestinian people,” it added.

Muwafaq Sahwil, political party Fatah’s secretary in Ramallah and el-Bireh, said the strike is a rejection of the United States veto of the recent United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“This is a message to the US administration that stands against the aspirations of our people,” he told Al Jazeera.

Who is participating in the global strike?

The calls for the strike have rallied global support.

Lebanon announced the closure of government offices and institutions nationwide. In an official statement on Sunday, secretary-general of Lebanon’s Council of Ministers, Mahmoud Mekkiya, announced that Prime Minister Najib Mikati made the decision in response to a global call for a strike “in solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinian people”.

Additionally, the International Union of Muslim Scholars, which is a global organisation of Muslim theologians, called for the strike.

Ali Al-Qaradaghi, the union’s secretary-general, emphasised the strike’s significance as a protest option, given the international community’s failure to stop the war in Gaza.

What is the significance of the strike?

Palestinian activist Abdullah Abu Rameh believes that it is significant to strike in solidarity with Gaza, protesting the US veto on Friday. “This is a war against the civilians, not against Hamas,” Abu Rameh told Al Jazeera.

Gaza’s death toll stands at 17,997 while 49,229 have been wounded since October 7, UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA reported on Sunday. At least 1,550 families have lost multiple relatives.

“Millions of people striking, not going to work, not buying online, not buying from big corporations that support Israel will have an influence on the economy of big countries, especially countries supporting Israel,” Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, who specialises in Palestine research and has worked with the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics, told Al Jazeera. “It would make the leaders rethink their support for Israel,” she added.

Why is Israel bombing Gaza?

Israel’s recent escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip came following the deadliest attack on Israeli soil on October 7.

A weeklong temporary truce ended on the morning of December 1 and Israel has since intensified attacks in the enclave’s south – areas that were previously declared safe zones.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies