(PALESTINE, LANKAPUVATH) –Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in the West Bank and along the border with Gaza on Thursday, as widespread predictions of unrest were realized a day after President Trump took the high-risk move of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Hundreds of youths clashed with Israeli forces at checkpoints.
In Gaza, youths protested along the border fence, rallied in a central Gaza City park and burned tires in a refugee camp. Dozens were injured, at least one seriously. After nightfall, two rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza. The Israeli military said they had fallen short and landed inside the Palestinian coastal territory.
The Israeli military said it was sending additional battalions to the West Bank in response to the protests. Trump’s decision ignited other protests across the region, from the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon to Tunisia. Hundreds of Jordanians protested outside the United States Embassy in Amman and called for its closing, chanting, “America is the head of the snake.” At a news conference in Baghdad, Moqtada al-Sadr, an influential Iraqi Shiite cleric, called for a unified “Arab Spring” against Israel.
Jihadist groups from Somalia to Syria and from Yemen to Afghanistan issued venomous statements about Trump’s decision. In Palestinian areas, schools were closed, stores were shuttered and the public largely observed a general strike.
The mood in the streets of downtown East Jerusalem, where there was a heavy Israeli police presence, was tense and sullen. In Gaza, Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas, the Islamic militant group, called for a new intifada, or uprising, saying, “Trump will regret this decision.”
The Palestinians have undertaken two major uprisings since the late 1990s, leading to hundreds of deaths on both sides, but many Palestinians say they ultimately did little to advance their cause.
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, which upended longstanding American policy and broke with international consensus, continued to draw condemnation from Arab and European leaders.
Critics have argued that unilaterally recognizing Israel’s claim to the city prejudged the outcome of any negotiations for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian aspire for an independent state with East Jerusalem, which has holy sites sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims, as its capital.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and other officials in the West Bank said the United States had disqualified itself from any mediating role. Abbas has repeatedly stated that he does not want a third intifada on his watch.
His Fatah party has called for nonviolent protests in the West Bank. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top foreign policy official, warned that the decision would be damaging to the peace effort. “President Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem has a very worrying potential impact,” she said.
“It has a very fragile context and the announcement has the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we are already living in.” In Beirut, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah, called for governments to withdraw their ambassadors from Tel Aviv and take other steps that go beyond making statements.
The American secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, said in Vienna that the United States was still committed to the peace process and that a two-state solution to resolve the conflict was still viable. In Beirut, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah, called for governments to withdraw their ambassadors from Tel Aviv and take other steps that go beyond making statements.
The American secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, said in Vienna that the United States was still committed to the peace process and that a two-state solution to resolve the conflict was still viable.
(The New York Times)