Violent protests have broken out in Bethlehem today after US President Donald Trump enraged the Middle East by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Palestinians who also claim Jerusalem as their capital were incensed by this and they took to the streets to protest. Protesting Palestinians torched debris and hurled rocks towards Israeli troops who fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse a demonstration in the biblical town.
Medics said 17 people have been injured by Israeli army gunfire during clashes in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip with rallies underway in the cities of Nablus, Jenin and Ramallah. In Hebron and Al-Bireh, thousands of demonstrators marched with chants of “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine”, witnesses said.
The final status of Jerusalem has always been one of the most difficult and sensitive questions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Until yesterday, no country in the world recognized any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with the exception of Russia, which announced its recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel earlier this year. As such all embassies are based in Tel Aviv.
However, on Wednesday, December 6, US President Donald Trump announced that US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He went on to direct the state department to begin the lengthy process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His announcement sparked fury and could possibly lead to an uprising between Israel and Palestine.
This morning, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Trump of throwing the Middle East into a “ring of fire” and compared him to a “blender” stirring up trouble in the area. The Country’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said America “has pulled the pin on a bomb ready to blow in the region.”
Hamas called for “days of rage” and a new “intifada” uprising after saying Trump had “opened the gates of hell”. The Islamist group said the President had “opened the gates of hell” with his “flagrant aggression” while a pro-Hezbollah newspaper in Lebanon has declared “Death to America” on a front page showing a burning US flag.
Russia said today that it viewed Trump’s move with “serious concern” and will criticise the new stance at the UN Security Council. Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the new stance as “not helpful” while France rejected the “unilateral” decision and Germany said Jerusalem’s status could only be resolved on the basis of a two-state solution.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Trump had “bound himself forever” to the history of Jerusalem with his announcement and claimed other states are now considering following the U.S. lead.
As spontaneous protests broke out in Gaza overnight, the Israeli military said it would deploy several battalions to the West Bank ahead of Friday, while other troops have been put on alert to address “possible developments.” Palestinians went on strike across the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip on Thursday and protests are expected on Friday after midday prayers.
See more photos and a video of the protest below.