Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops across West Bank

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Associated Press

Hundreds of Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli troops across the West Bank while demonstrators in Gaza burned posters of President Donald Trump over his widely denounced decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

There were battles between Palestinians and Israeli troops on the West Bank.
Source: Associated Press

The leader of the Hamas militant group, which runs Gaza, called for a new armed uprising in a widespread show of anger, as the demonstrators torched American and Israeli flags.

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In the West Bank, crowds of protesters set tires on fire and hurled stones at Israeli troops. In Bethlehem, troops fired water cannons and tear gas to disperse a crowd, in clashes that could cloud the upcoming Christmas celebrations in the town of Jesus' birth. In Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government, protesters set tires on fire, sending a thick plume of black smoke over the city.

Trump's dramatic break with decades of US policy on Jerusalem counters long-standing international assurances to the Palestinians that the fate of the city will be determined in negotiations. The Palestinians seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as a future capital.

Palestinians shuttered their schools and shops on Thursday to begin three "days of rage" over Trump's decision. Rallies were underway in other West Bank cities, and a demonstration was being held outside the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem's Old City.

"We are here. We believe in our rights," said Rania Hatem, a protester outside the Old City.

Palestinian officials said dozens of protesters were lightly wounded, most from tear gas inhalation. Friday, the Muslim holy day when Palestinians gather for weekly mass prayers, could prove more violent.

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas' leader Ismail Haniyeh called on Palestinians to launch a new intifada, or uprising, against Israel on Friday.

"The American decision is an aggression on our people and a war on our sanctuaries," Haniyeh said in a speech, urging supporters "to be ready for any orders."

"We want the uprising to last and continue to let Trump and the occupation regret this decision," he said.

The protest follows President Trump’s announcement of recognising the capital, while virtually ignoring Palestinian claims.
Source: Associated Press

Hamas, a group that seeks Israel's destruction, killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks in the early 2000s. But the group's capabilities are more limited now. Gaza, Hamas' stronghold, is closed by an Israeli blockade, while in the West Bank, many of its members have been arrested. Nonetheless, it possesses a large arsenal of rockets in Gaza capable of striking much of Israel.

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."

The conflicting claims to Jerusalem, and especially its Old City, where sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites are located, lie at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Trump's decision had no impact on the city's daily life, it carried deep symbolic meaning, and was seen as an attempt to impose a solution on the Palestinians.

Israel, which claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, has welcomed Trump's decision. Netanyahu said Trump "bound himself forever" to the history of Jerusalem with the move and claimed other states are considering following suit.


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