Jerusalem's old city.
(photo credit: UDI SHAHAM)
Despite predictions of violence following US President Donald Trump declaring his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, no special incidents or protests were reported in the eastern part of the city on Wednesday.
Whether it was due to the rain or indifference, Arab residents of east Jerusalem decided to go on with their day-to-day lives, despite calls for a day of rage in protest of the move.
Hours after the announcement, Wednesday night seemed calm, and the area around the Kalandiya checkpoint – which is commonly a place of confrontation between Palestinians and the IDF and the Border Police – was quiet.
East Jerusalem remains quiet ahead of Trump's announcement, December 6, 2017. (Udi Shaham)
While knowing the content of the announcement beforehand, residents of the Old City of Jerusalem, also a common location for violent confrontation, seemed no different than any other day.
Ahmad, a shop owner located next to the Damascus Gate, the central hub of Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City, told The Jerusalem Post
that from his perspective such an announcement carries major weight but it would change nothing on the ground. From his point of view, he said, nothing could get worse.
“Look, the Americans have been lying to us, the Palestinians, for over 50 years,” Ahmad said. “So what could we expect from him? All their presidents deceived us, all spat in our faces, what else can we do?”
Ahmad added that Trump’s announcement essentially erases the Palestinians from the map.
“Why won’t he just tell us what he really thinks – that we should all get out of here and that’s it,” he said.
When asked about the warm ties between the US and Saudi Arabia under the Trump administration, Ahmad said: “We don’t see the Saudis as our protectors... Why won’t he move the embassy to Mecca,” he said sarcastically.
Ahmad’s neighboring shop owner, who asked to remain unnamed, suggested that maybe today things seem calm, but under the surface things are getting heated. He predicted the announcement would spark violence in the city.
“Just like in the summer, over al-Aksa, the residents here would not remain silent,” he said, referring to the strong Palestinian reaction to metal detectors being installed on the Temple Mount. “This is our city – the place that we were born. These kinds of moves unite us.”
“Why won’t he go back and deal with Russia or Korea and leave us alone?… Who is he to decide the fate of this area?” he added.
Another response was an announcement made by the Union of Parents in East Jerusalem Schools that declared a one-day strike in light of Trump’s statement.
Meanwhile, Israel Police is preparing for the possibility of violence erupting in the city later this week, and especially during the Friday
Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told the Post
that the police added special reinforcements to security units, and they are waiting to see how things develop.
“If necessary, there would be an immediate response to any type of incident that could take place, whether it is in [Jerusalem] neighborhoods, or the outskirts of Jerusalem,” he said.
So far, there is no specific indication of pre-planned backlash, but police are regularly monitoring social media for tips on potential demonstrations.
“If we will hear about large-scale calls from different factions to attend demonstrations, we will respond to that,” Rosenfeld said.