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Israel gears up for another 'Day of Rage' after Trump Jerusalem declaration

An Israeli border police officer pushes away Palestinian protesters outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem Old City, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
Clashes on the streets of Jerusalem and the West Bank were accompanied by a diplomatic maelstrom

Furious Palestinians have called for another "day of rage" on Friday as protests take place across the region against US President Donald Trump's fiercely contested recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital while Israeli forces brace for more violence.

On Thursday, thousands of Palestinians protested in the West Bank and over a hundred were reported injured in clashes with the Israeli military.

More demonstrations and marches are scheduled to take place after Friday's afternoon prayers as part of the "three days of rage" Palestinians already declared earlier this week. 

Trump's announcement on Wednesday also prompted an almost universal diplomatic backlash that continued on Thursday, with fresh warnings from Turkey, the European Union and Russia.

Palestinians, who covet the eastern parts of the holy city as the capital of their future state, denounced Trump's declaration as having "destroyed" a two state solution and threatened to boycott an upcoming visit by US Vice President Mike Pence.

Schools were closed and a general strike called across swathes of the Israeli-controlled West Bank and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) deployed hundreds more troops to the occupied West Bank amid uncertainty over the fallout.

The Red Crescent said at least 108 Palestinians were injured in the rolling disturbances.

Palestinian news agencies reported that several demonstrators suffered injuries from inhaling tear gas and from rubber bullets.

SAUL LOEB (AFP)

Protests also erupted in the Gaza Strip, where earlier on Thursday Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called for a new intifada, or uprising. At least nine Palestinians were injured by Israeli fire from across the border fence, the health ministry in Gaza said.

In the early evening local time, rocket sirens sounded in Israeli communities close to Gaza. The IDF later struck two "terror targets" in the Strip after at least three rockets were fired toward Israel, although only one reached its target.

Earlier, Israeli forces dispersed several hundred protesters with tear gas at a checkpoint at the entrance to Ramallah, while the Palestinian Red Crescent reported dozens wounded from tear gas, rubber bullets and live fire in the West Bank.

Israel Police said three suspects were arrested near the Damascus Gate area in Jerusalem, the site of demonstrations earlier in the day.

The ex-head of Israel's internal security service, the Shin Bet, told i24NEWS that while there is the potential for an explosion of violence, Israel's security establishment is prepared.

"I am quite optimistic that we will be able to overcome it," said Yaakov Peri, now a centrist lawmaker. "I hope that we learned the lessons from the first, second and third intifada and riots [over] the Temple Mount."

A 'moving' moment

Musa AL SHAER (AFP)

The frustration and anger on the Palestinian street contrasted with grins of satisfaction in Israel, with even opposition figures lauding Trump's policy shift as an historic victory for the almost 70 year-old state.

"There are big moments in the history of Zionism: the Balfour Declaration, the creation of the state, the liberation of Jerusalem," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a clip published on his social media accounts. "And yesterday -- Trump's declaration."

Senior Israeli opposition figure Tzipi Livni, who was minister in charge of peace negotiations in the previous Netanyahu government, welcomed Trump's decision as a "moving, touching statement" but told i24NEWS it should be accompanied by a willingness to compromise.

"We have an opportunity with the Sunni Arab world -- let's do it."

The right wing government has also seized on the moment to further their control over the Arab-majority east of the capital.

Israel's Hadashot news channel said that construction minister Yoav Galant was proposing to build 14,000 new housing units in Jerusalem, including in neighborhoods in the Arab-majority east.

Israel seized Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

'Darker times'

MENAHEM KAHANA (AFP)

Trump's defiant move -- making good on a pledge made during his 2016 presidential campaign -- ends seven decades of US ambiguity on the status of the Holy City, which is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump said it marks the start of a "new approach" to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," he said in a speech from the White House on Wednesday, urging calm and "the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate."

But his willingness to part with international consensus on such a sensitive issue drew increasingly urgent warnings from around the world.

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the decision could take the region "backwards to even darker times."

In a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the Palestinians and Israel to "hold back" and renew negotiations.

"This kind of measure can block possible paths to peace in the Middle East," the Kremlin said of US President Trump's move.

Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, called it "unjustified and irresponsible."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it would put the region in a "ring of fire."

"Hey Trump! What do you want to do?" he asked.

"What kind of approach is this? Political leaders do not stir things up, they seek to make peace."

'Pence not welcome'

AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi

Palestinian leaders were outraged, with president Mahmoud Abbas saying Trump had disqualified the United States from its traditional role as peace broker in the Middle East conflict, and his top negotiator claimed the president had "destroyed" the two state solution.

US Vice-President Mike Pence is likely to bear the brunt of the Palestinian outrage, after a senior member of Abbas' Fatah faction saying the White House deputy is "not welcome in Palestine.:

"President Abbas will not welcome him" in the wake of the US shift on Jerusalem, Jibril Rajoub told AFP.

Abbas discussed the Jerusalem issue with Jordan's King Abdullah II.

In a joint statement, they said "any measure tampering with the legal and historical status of Jerusalem is invalid" and warned Trump's decision would "have dangerous repercussions".

In Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, called for a mass demonstration on Monday "to protest and denounce this American aggression".

Several Palestinian factions scheduled several protest over the coming days, including a mass demonstration outside the US embassy on December 15.

AFP and i24NEWS senior Middle East correspondent Mohammed Al-Kassim contributed to this report.

See also:

Netanyahu says many countries will move embassies to Jerusalem

Comments

(1)

Instead of fighting against palestinian protesters, Israeli police, army and secret services have to definitely find a way to tehnically make impossible palestinian stuntings and protests. For example, loalizing the usual places of contests and occupying all the momment with some police troops all nights and days; condemning all palestinians they are used to catch in this kind of protests with some public works & some amends to pay, it's going make cleaner juwe cities and fill with money the city accounts.

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