Israeli security forces are gearing up as violent protests and clashes begin in the Arab sector following U.S President Donald Trump’s formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Palestinian factions across the political spectrum have declared three “days of rage” to protest the announcement, and the head of Hamas’ political wing, Ismail Haniyeh has called for expanding the protests into a third intifada.
“Tomorrow, December 8, 2017, should be a day of rage and the beginning of a major effort to rise up, which I will name the intifada of Jerusalem and the West Bank’s freedom,” Haniyeh said in a recorded video message that was broadcast on Hamas’ TV station.
“As we liberated Gaza, we can free Jerusalem and the West Bank by the way of this popular struggle.”
Dozens of Arabs began rioting at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday afternoon, where they clashed with Israeli police and security forces stationed in the area. There were also reports of Arabs throwing stones at Jews along the Gaza border and more riots in Hebron.
IDF battalions deployed to problem areas in Judea and Samaria, as well as East Jerusalem, in expectation of further Arab violence. Two Palestinians were reported injured in Gaza.
Following Trump’s speech Wednesday night there were a few a few isolated incidents of violence in and around Jerusalem, including several masked Palestinians throwing Molotov cocktails from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya onto the Jerusalem – Ma’aleh Adumim highway. Border Police forces, who were on high alert as a result of Trump’s speech, spotted them and apprehended 10 perpetrators who were caught in the act. Nobody was hurt in the incident. In Bethlehem, a pipe bomb was thrown towards the Rachel’s tomb from the neighboring Aida refugee camp.
In addition to the days of rage, several Palestinian organizations, including Fatah and the East Jerusalem Parents Union, have declared a general strike Thursday in schools, universities and places of business. Protests are expected throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank, with calls for strikes and marches being noted in Hebron, Jenin, Jericho and Qalqilya.