More protests over Jerusalem feared

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY JOSEF FE­D­ER­MAN As­so­ci­ated Press

Jerusalem — Thou­sands of Pales­tinian pro­test­ers clashed with Is­raeli forces in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, demon­stra­tors in the Gaza Strip burned U.S. flags and pic­tures of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and a top Pales­tinian of­fi­cial said Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence would not be wel­come in the West Bank, in a show of rage Thurs­day over the Amer­i­can de­ci­sion to rec­og­nize Jerusalem as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal.

Is­raeli forces were brac­ing for the pos­si­bil­ity of even stronger vi­o­lence on Fri­day, when tens of thou­sands of Pales­tini­ans at­tend weekly prayers at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque, the city’s most sa­cred Is­lamic site. In Gaza, the supreme leader of the Ha­mas mil­i­tant group called on Pales­tini­ans to launch a new up­ris­ing against Is­rael.

The Pales­tini­ans were blind­sided by Trump’s move to de­part from decades of U.S. policy on Jerusalem and up­end long­stand­ing in­ter­na­tional as­sur­ances that the fate of the city would be de­ter­mined in ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The Pales­tini­ans seek east Jerusalem, cap­tured by Is­rael in 1967, as their cap­i­tal. Is­rael claims the en­tire city, in­clud­ing east Jerusalem, home to sen­si­tive Jewish, Mus­lim and Chris­tian holy sites, as its un­di­vided cap­i­tal. The op­pos­ing claims lie at the heart of the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict and have of­ten spilled over into deadly vi­o­lence.

The Pales­tini­ans de­clared three “days of rage,” shut­ter­ing schools and busi­nesses, and stag­ing an­gry demon­stra­tions at Da­m­as­cus Gate, one of the en­trances to Jerusalem’s Old City, and cities across the West Bank and Gaza.

“We are here. We be­lieve in our rights and one day it (will) be­come Jerusalem, the cap­i­tal for the Pales­tinian peo­ple,” de­clared Ra­nia Hatem, a pro­tester out­side the Old City.

The Is­raeli mil­i­tary re­ported demon­stra­tions in some 30 lo­ca­tions across the West Bank on Thurs­day, say­ing Pales­tini­ans had hurled stones and fire­bombs at troops. A mil­i­tary of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity un­der brief­ing guide­lines, said troops were in­structed to use min­i­mal force and avoid live fire to avoid es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions.

In the West Bank, troops fired wa­ter can­nons and tear gas to dis­perse a crowd in Beth­le­hem, the bib­li­cal town of Je­sus’ birth, just weeks be­fore thou­sands of for­eign tourists are ex­pected to visit for Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions. In Ra­mal­lah, the seat of the Pales­tinian gov­ern­ment, pro­test­ers set tires on fire, send­ing thick plumes of black smoke over the city.

Pales­tinian of­fi­cials said dozens of pro­test­ers were slightly wounded, most from tear gas in­hala­tion. Spon­ta­neous protests also took place in Gaza, with an­gry youths burn­ing tires, Amer­i­can and Is­raeli flags and Trump posters.

A se­nior Pales­tinian of­fi­cial said the Pales­tini­ans would not meet with Pence dur­ing his visit to the re­gion later this month when Pence is ex­pected to visit Is­rael and make a stop in the Pales­tinian city of Beth­le­hem. “We will not re­ceive him in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries,” said the of­fi­cial, Jib­ril Ra­joub.

How­ever, a White House of­fi­cial said Pence still plans to meet with Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas as sched­uled and said it would be “coun­ter­pro­duc­tive” to can­cel. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss up­com­ing plans.

Is­raeli se­cu­rity of­fi­cials were pre­par­ing for more un­rest on Fri­day. In a pre-emp­tive move, the mil­i­tary said it would de­ploy sev­eral bat­tal­ions to the West Bank, while other troops were put on alert.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials said Fri­day prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque, along with the ex­pected un­rest in the West Bank, would set the tone for the com­ing days.

Pales­tinian of­fi­cials in the West Bank said they had no in­ter­est in bloody vi­o­lence but warned that in­di­vid­ual at­tacks were pos­si­ble.

Is­raeli po­lice were con­sid­er­ing whether to im­pose age re­stric­tions on wor­ship­pers at Fri­day’s prayers, but as of Thurs­day evening, had made no changes.

In Gaza, Is­mail Haniyeh, the Ha­mas supreme leader, called on Pales­tini­ans to launch a new up­ris­ing. “We want the up­ris­ing to last and con­tinue to let Trump and the oc­cu­pa­tion re­gret this de­ci­sion,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.