Clashes erupt across West Bank over US Jerusalem pivot

JERUSALEM — Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops across the West Bank and Gaza, and Muslim worshippers from Jordan to Indonesia poured into the streets after Friday prayers to protest President Donald Trump’s recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Protesters burned Israeli and U.S. flags or stomped on Trump posters in displays of anger.

In the West Bank, demonstrators torched heaps of tires, sending columns of thick black smoke rising over the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem. Palestinian stone-throwers traded volleys in the streets with soldiers firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

The Israeli military reported protests at 30 locations across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and said Israeli forces arrested six people.

Red Crescent paramedics and Palestinian health officials reported 13 people wounded by live fire and 47 by rubber bullets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Dozens more suffered from tear gas inhalation, medics said.

Trump’s seismic policy shift on Jerusalem has angered Arabs and Muslims who view it as an expression of blatant pro-Israel bias on one of the region’s most explosive religious and political disputes.

Jerusalem is home to major Muslim and Christian shrines, as well as Judaism’s holiest site. The Israeli-annexed eastern sector is sought by the Palestinians as a future capital, while Israel says it won’t relinquish any part of Jerusalem.

Palestinian political groups had called for massive demonstrations Friday in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — lands captured by Israel in 1967 and sought for a Palestinian state.

Separately, the Gaza-based leader of the Islamic militant Hamas agitated for a third uprising against Israel.

On Friday, the militant al-Qaida network urged followers around the world to target vital interests of the United States, its allies and Israel. A statement posted on al-Qaida’s media arm as-Sahab called for holy war or jihad and described America as an oppressor of Muslims.

Street protests were held Friday across the region. Marches were staged in Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Jordan.

In the Jordanian capital of Amman, hundreds of protesters chanted “Jerusalem is Arab” and “America is the head of the snake.”

Demonstrators stomped on a poster that showed Trump alongside a Nazi swastika.

Thousands of worshippers at a traditional flashpoint, Jerusalem’s OId City, dispersed quietly after noon prayers.

The Old City is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is Islam’s third holiest shrine and stands on the remnants of Judaism’s holiest site. One of the compound’s outer walls is the holiest site where Jews can pray.

In the past, Israeli authorities often imposed age restrictions, barring younger Muslims from entering the Al Aqsa compound during periods of tensions, but did not do so Friday.

The preacher at Al Aqsa told worshippers that the city will “remain Muslim and Arab.”

“All we want from the Arab and Muslim leaders is action and not statements of denunciation,” Sheikh Yousef Abu Sneineh said to the approximately 27,000 worshippers.

Around 2,000 people later gathered in the plaza around the mosque, chanting: “With our soul and blood, we will defend Al Aqsa and Jerusalem.”

For decades, the United States had professed neutrality on the fate of Jerusalem, in line with an international consensus that the fate of the holy city should be determined in negotiations.

Trump’s dramatic policy shift, announced Wednesday, has triggered widespread international condemnation, including from U.S. allies. Several European leaders have warned the U.S. shift could further destabilize the region.

French President Emmanuel Macron said after a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that he was “launching an appeal for calm and responsibility.”

Hariri said the U.S. decision “will further complicate the peace process and pose an additional challenge to the stability of the whole region.”

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