Pales­tini­ans, Is­raeli troops clash over U.S. stance

The Buffalo News - - WASHINGTON NEWS - By Love­day Mor­ris and Ruth Eglash WASHINGTON POST

RA­MAL­LAH, West Bank – Pales­tinian pro­test­ers and Is­raeli sol­diers clashed Thurs­day in Jerusalem, Ra­mal­lah and other places in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with some de­mon­stra­tors burn­ing Amer­i­can flags and posters of Pres­i­dent Trump a day af­ter he sided with Is­rael by an­nounc­ing U.S. recog­ni­tion of Jerusalem as its cap­i­tal.

But at night­fall, af­ter the skir­mishes died down, the re­gion was brac­ing for worse.

More than 100 peo­ple were in­jured Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing to the Pales­tine Red Cres­cent, de­spite the de­ploy­ment of sev­eral ex­tra bat­tal­ions of Is­raeli troops. The crit­i­cal test comes to­day, when larger demon­stra­tions are ex­pected as crowds leave mosques af­ter the weekly noon prayers.

In Gaza, the Is­lamist move­ment Ha­mas urged its fol­low­ers to ig­nite a third in­tifada, or up­ris­ing, against Is­rael. The Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity called for a gen­eral strike. Shops were shut­tered in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Trump’s an­nounce­ment Wed­nes­day that he would move the U.S. Em­bassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and his dec­la­ra­tion that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal re­versed a decades-old U.S. pol­icy. But the sta­tus of the city – holy to Chris­tians, Mus­lims and Jews and strug­gled over for mil­len­nia – is a deeply charged is­sue that res­onates be­yond the con­flict be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans.

The back­lash rip­pled across the wider re­gion, with hun­dreds of de­mon­stra­tors gath­er­ing out­side the U.S. Em­bassy in neigh­bor­ing Jor­dan hold­ing plac­ards read­ing “De­ci­sion Re­jected” and “No to U.S. ar­ro­gance.” Crit­i­cisms con­tin­ued to flow in from gov­ern­ments in the Mid­dle East, Europe and be­yond, with U.S. friends and ad­ver­saries alike voic­ing dis­ap­proval and alarm.

Turkey’s pres­i­dent pre­dicted that the re­gion would ig­nite in a “ring of fire,” while Euro­pean lead­ers re­it­er­ated their op­po­si­tion to the pol­icy, and No­bel lau­re­ate Des­mond Tutu, 86, de­clared, “God is weep­ing.” In Is­rael, the de­ci­sion has been widely wel­comed by politi­cians, who see it as long-over­due recog­ni­tion of re­al­ity and of their his­toric claim to the city. Pales­tini­ans say it is a dan­ger­ous breach of U.N. res­o­lu­tions and in­ter­na­tional law that ig­nores their right to a fu­ture cap­i­tal in East Jerusalem.

On the edge of Ra­mal­lah on Thurs­day, Is­raeli forces fired dozens of rounds of tear gas and stun grenades at hun­dreds of Pales­tinian pro­test­ers air­ing their anger over Trump’s state­ment, mov­ing quickly to dis­perse the crowd. “This will be bad,” said an am­bu­lance driver in Ra­mal­lah as young men burned tires and pelted the sol­diers with stones. Emer­gency ve­hi­cles fer­ried the in­jured away. In some places, no­tably Gaza, pro­test­ers set fire to im­ages of Trump and Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, and to U.S. and Is­raeli flags.

“Trump made the wrong de­ci­sion,” said Sarah Louay, 15, who was mak­ing her way to­ward the demon­stra­tion car­ry­ing a Pales­tinian flag. “We will raise our voices for Jerusalem.”

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