Four Palestinians were killed by the IDF in Gaza and hundreds were injured as thousands protested and rioted across Jerusalem and the West Bank over the weekend to vent their anger over US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Sirens sounded in communities across southern Israel on Friday night as Gazan terrorist fired rockets at civilian targets.
One rocket was intercepted and another hit Sderot, damaging several vehicles but causing no injuries, the army said.
The IAF immediately struck a Hamas military compound in Gaza, a weapons warehouse and two other sites where the Islamist group manufactures weapons. Hamas said that two of its members were killed in the bombings and another 25 people, including several children, were wounded.
The Nasser Salah Eddine Brigades, a jihadist organization in the Strip, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, according to reports.
“The IDF views the shooting at Israeli communities severely, and Hamas is solely responsible for what happens in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit said.
Demonstrations also took place east of Khan Yunis, east of Gaza City and in Beit Hanun in northern Gaza.
Some 450 Gazans protested in eight spots along the border fence, where they burned tires and threw stones at nearby IDF soldiers. Two Palestinians were killed by IDF fire, and according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, one Gazan was moderately wounded by Israeli fire.
Maj.-Gen. Yoav “Poli” Mordechai, the head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit, urged the Palestinians in Arabic on Saturday not to play into the hands of “irresponsible terrorists who are leading you to an escalation [of the conflict] right before winter, when the hardships in Gaza increase.”
Rocket fire on Israel is “extreme and unacceptable,” Mordechai warned on his Facebook page, saying that future attacks will lead to “a harsh and painful” response by the IDF.
“The IDF has shown restraint in light of the demonstrations near the Strip’s border fence. In addition, several rockets were fired at Israel in the past 24 hours, one of which landed in Sderot,” Mordechai said.
“These grave, unacceptable events led to IDF attacks on Hamas terrorist targets. Continued shooting incidents led to a harsh, painful response by the IDF. Do not test our might,” he cautioned. “Hamas is responsible for the Strip. Wake up, because you’re almost out of time.”
In the West Bank and Jerusalem, 1,397 Palestinians were injured in protests and riots against Israeli security forces on Friday and Saturday, according to the Red Crescent spokeswoman, Erab Sukaha.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said: “Security measures will continue over the forthcoming days in Jerusalem as well as other areas in Judea and Samaria. Security assessments are being made on a day-to-day basis due to the security situation.”
Still the protests on Friday and Saturday were smaller than expected – especially compared to the demonstrations in Jerusalem last summer against the placement of metal detectors at the main entrance for Muslim worshipers to the Temple Mount.
At the Damascus Gate plaza outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday, hundreds protested holding anti-Trump signs and chanting slogans such as “Not east and not west – all of Jerusalem is Palestinian.”
Dozens of Palestinian youths clashed with border police, Yasam Special Patrol Unit riot police and mounted police on Saleh a-Din Street in Jerusalem throughout Saturday afternoon.
They gathered at the junction of Salah a-Din and Zahra streets carrying Palestinian flags and throwing rocks, glass bottles and bags full of trash at the policemen while shouting “God is great.”
Police, who responded by using stun grenades to disperse them, detained 13 rioters. A Palestinian Red Crescent volunteer said at least 10 protesters were injured in the clashes. Police said four policemen were wounded, and were treated at the scene.
Tourists who had come to the Old City, as well as a Malaysian Islamic tour group seeking to pray at Al-Aksa Mosque, were temporarily stuck in the middle of the violence.
Riots also took place on Friday and Saturday nights in the village of Issawiya in east Jerusalem. Police said that Molotov cocktails were thrown at patrol forces, and protesters were then dispersed.
In the West Bank on Saturday, some 600 Palestinians protested, setting tires ablaze and throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at IDF and Border Police personnel, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.
The two biggest disturbances in the West Bank were at Rachel’s Tomb, on the northern edge of Bethlehem, and in Tulkarm. Soldiers employed crowd-control methods to disperse the rioters.
In Ramallah on Saturday, a Palestinian youth was critically wounded when he was hit in the eye by a rubber bullet during clashes, Wafa reported.
“As riots took place in various areas, Border Police snipers identified the main suspects involved and precisely injured them in the lower part of the body,” Rosenfeld said, adding that “they were taken by Palestinian medics from the scene.”
On Friday about 3,000 Palestinian took part in some 30 riots in places such as Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, the Arroub refugee camp, Tulkarm, Kalandiya and Beit Umar. During those riots Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails and stones at IDF and Border Patrol troops, who responded with riot dispersal methods, including tear gas and stun grenades as well as firing warning shots in the air.Seth J. Frantzmanm, Tovah Lazaroff and Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.