After President Trump recognized Jerusalem, the holy sites of Christians, Jews and Muslims, as Israel’s capital, Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in the West Bank and along the border with Gaza on December 7th. In Palestinian areas, the public went on a general strike in respond to Trump’s decision. They closed school, shuttered stores, and hundreds of Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli forces at checkpoints. Moreover, in the midnight, two rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza. Dozens of people were injured and at least one injured seriously during this clash. In response to the protests, the Israeli military announced that they were sending additional battalions to the West Bank.
Mr. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem also has drawn a strong condemnation from some Arab and European leaders. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and other officials in the West Bank announced that the United States had disqualified itself from any mediating role. Meanwhile, European Union’s top foreign policy official, Federica Mogherini, also warned that Trump’s decision on Jerusalem may lead to a very worrying potential impact and would be damaging to the peace effort.
Palestinians Clash with Israeli Troops to Protest Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration
JERUSALEM — 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.
Mr. 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 Mr. 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.
Mr. 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. Palestinians 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.
Mr. 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.
“All of Israel’s government offices are largely in Jerusalem already, so the U.S. is just recognizing the reality of that,” he said in response to a question at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “This does not in any way finalize the status of Jerusalem, that’s still left to the parties to discuss,” he added.
An important test will come on Friday. Hamas, the dominant force in Gaza, appeared to be competing with the West Bank leadership over loyalty to Jerusalem, and has called for Palestinians to rally and to confront the Israeli forces wherever possible after noon prayers.
Mr. Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and Hamas are engaged in a renewed reconciliation effort after a decade-long schism. In the midst of the turmoil over Jerusalem, the authority’s prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, arrived in Gaza on Thursday to discuss the handover of internal security there, one of the main sticking points that have bedeviled previous attempts to ease tensions.
Mr. Hamdallah told reporters in Gaza that his side was devoted to reconciliation, “but if we fail, we will rise again to face together the biggest challenge: the Israeli occupation.”
There were few visible signs of celebration among Israelis; for many, Mr. Trump had only affirmed a longstanding reality.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the announcement from Washington. “President Trump has inscribed himself in the annals of our capital for all time,” he said at a conference at the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “His name will now be linked to the names of others in the context of the glorious history of Jerusalem and our people.”
Mr. Netanyahu said Israel was in contact with other countries to persuade them to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, too. “It’s about time,” he said.
In Gaza, Salwa Helis, 32, took a group of orphans she teaches to the demonstration in the Gaza City park, where they held Palestinian flags and banners against the backdrop of a large poster of Jerusalem, a city that is out of reach for most Gazans.
“I can’t carry a weapon to shoot or launch rockets at Israelis,” she said. “That’s why I am here protesting against Trump’s resolution by shouting solidarity slogans for Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Palestine.”
In the Jabaliya refugee camp north of Gaza City Rwaida Abuatia, 55, was egging on the protesters. “There should be no rockets under the ground,” she said, referring to the subterranean stocks. “They should all be launched against Israel.”
Source: New York Times, Isabel Kershner, December 7th, 2017. Photo: Uriel Sinai.