The Palestinian territories have come to a halt during a general strike called in protest against an Israeli siege of a West Bank jail.
The Palestinian Authority is already in a heightened state of alert after the raid on the Jericho jail provoked a wave of abductions and threats of revenge against the Jewish state.
The strike was ordered late on Tuesday after emergency talks in the Gaza Strip, and on Wednesday most businesses were shuttered and schools were closed.
The siege by Israel succeeded in its aim of capturing Ahmad Saadat, the leader of the resistance movement, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), but has sparked an angry reaction.
Three foreign captives – two French and a Korean – were being held by Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip after the raid, and much of the backlash has been directed at British and US interests.
Saadat surrendered to Israeli troops late on Tuesday along with 5 other jailed Palestinian political activists.
Israel holds the five PFLP members responsible for the killing of an Israeli minister in October 2001.
Two Palestinian security guards were killed and 26 others wounded, five of them critically in the assault.
A US State Department spokesman urged both sides to exercise “calm and restraint” amid mounting questions over why the international monitors at the prison were removed just minutes before the raid. The UN Security Council also called for calm.
The president of the European Parliament roundly condemned Israel’s massive raid on the prison and the wave of kidnappings of foreigners that followed it…