GAZA (Reuters) – Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank on Friday in what they said was a protest against U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Such clashes occur weekly, but tensions have risen following U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Dec. 6, which stirred anger across the Arab and Muslim world and concern among Washington’s European allies as well as Russia.
The move was welcomed by Israel.
“There is almost nothing left for the United States to do before it clearly declares a state of war against the Palestinian people, its authority and leadership,” wrote commentator Rajab Abu Serreya in the widely-circulated Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam.
A total of 17 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed in the flare-up since Trump’s announcement, though analysts say neither Israel nor the Palestinians are interested in a major escalation.
A few hundred Gazans approached the border fence with Israel, throwing stones at soldiers who tried to disperse them by firing canisters of tear gas, according to Reuters video. Smaller crowds gathered in a couple of West Bank cities where protesters threw stones and burned tyres. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and threw stun grenades.
East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want for the capital of a Palestinian state, was captured by Israel in the 1967 war and later annexed, though that action has not been internationally recognised.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have collapsed, partly due to Israeli settlement building on occupied land and to Israeli concerns over contact between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas which Israel considers a terrorist organisation.
Palestinian medical officials said 14 Palestinians were wounded by live ammunition in Friday’s clash. An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was checking the reports.
“We want the Americans to know that the bloodshed here of unarmed people is on the hands of their president,” said Ali, a 20-year-old university student in Gaza who did not want to give his family name.
(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; editing by Ralph Boulton)