Palestinian protesters run during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah December 7, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Security personnel were preparing for riots on Friday in Jerusalem and the West Bank, amid predictions that Palestinians and Israeli Arabs will escalate their protests against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a televised speech from the Gaza Strip on Thursday: “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.’
“[Just] as we liberated Gaza, we [will be] able... to free Jerusalem and the West Bank by the way of this popular struggle,” Haniyeh said.
There was some violence already on Thursday, when terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired three rockets at Israel. Two rockets fell inside the Strip, while a third struck an open area near Kibbutz Be’eri in the Eshkol region.
On Thursday night, the Israel Air Force carried out a retaliatory strike, hitting what it said were two terrorist targets in Gaza.
Across the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians, mostly young men and teens, took to the streets
burning tires and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at IDF troops in Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah. Twenty of the rioters were arrested by the army.
The IDF used riot dispersal measures against the protesters. It acknowledged that some Palestinians were wounded but did not provide an exact number. An IDF spokesman denied that the military used live fire to disperse the protests.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, 50 Palestinians were wounded, including four by live fire and 13 by rubber bullets.
In the Gaza Strip, dozens of riots broke out, including along the border with Israel where hundreds of Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails at IDF soldiers who used live fire to disperse them.
The army said it was reinforcing its Judea and Samaria Division with extra battalions and intelligence units.
“In addition, more standby forces were defined, as part of the [military’s] readiness for possible developments,” the IDF added.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post
that additional patrols and reinforcements will be deployed on Friday in the areas with the greatest potential for conflict.
“As of now, we have not raised the alert level, nor do we intend to restrict entrance to the Old City according to the age of the [Muslim] prayer-goers,” he said.
There were 30 riots taking place across the West Bank, with the largest being in Kalandiya (between Jerusalem and Ramallah), at Rachel’s Tomb (on the northern outskirts of Bethlehem) and in the center of Ramallah.
In the capital, hundreds of east Jerusalem residents protested at the Damascus Gate plaza.
The crowd chanted: “Jerusalem is Arab and Palestinian,” and, “Trump, you will see – Palestine will be free.”
Some clashes between police and young men were reported, however the Palestinian Red Crescent said there were no injuries near the Old City.
Police said three people were arrested after they threw rocks and water bottles at security personnel on Sultan Suleiman Street – the central traffic artery in east Jerusalem, which runs outside the Old City’s northern walls.
Protesters told the Post that the demonstrations on Thursday were “only a promo ahead of Friday,” in which many Muslims would come to pray in the Old City.
Police were monitoring social media in order to understand the sentiment of the Arab street in Jerusalem. However Rosenfeld said no large-scale planning of demonstrations is known to them. He added that there were no plans to close roads.
“The police will mainly focus on the noon prayer time at the points of friction – including the Old City alleys and the surrounding areas. It will also focus on the area of the Kalandiya checkpoint, where it is working with full cooperation with the IDF and Border Police, and we are prepared for an immediate operational response to a wide range of scenarios if necessary,” he said.Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.