Hundreds demonstrate in Israeli Arab town against Jerusalem recognition

Hundreds demonstrate in Israeli Arab town against Jerusalem recognition

Protesters march in Umm al-Fahm, carrying signs reading ‘Al-Quds is the capital of Palestine’; Arab MK: US now at forefront of opposition to peace

Protesters in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, file (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)
Protesters in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, file (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

Thousands of Israeli Arabs in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm protested on Friday against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

At an event organized by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, protesters carried signs reading “Al-Quds is the capital of Palestine,” and “Down with Trump.”

MK Yousef Jabarin of the Joint (Arab) List said the US pivot on Jerusalem amounted to spitting in the face of the international community: “We never had expectations from the US, but Trump this week placed his country at the forefront of those working against the entire world’s peace efforts.”

Meanwhile, an estimated 3,000 Palestinian protesters held demonstrations and clashed with Israeli security forces at some 30 locations across the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday after midday prayers.

Joint List MK Yousef Jabarin attends a Knesset committee meeting on December 22, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Palestinian officials said one demonstrator was killed at the Gaza border fence. At one point the Gaza health ministry said another man was killed, but later retracted the statement, saying he was in serious condition.

The Israeli army said it fired on two “inciters” at the fence. It said there was six points along the fence where protesters gathered and burned tires. The Red Cross in Gaza reported that 15 people were injured by tear gas and rubber bullets.

Palestinian officials reported over 200 people injured in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the vast majority of them lightly, from tear gas inhalation. Seven were hit by live bullets, and 45 by rubber bullets, the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said.

In Jerusalem, hundreds of Palestinian rallied after Friday prayers near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a flashpoint site in the holy city which, along with the Dome of the Rock, sits on the Temple Mount. The holiest place in Judaism, the mount is known to Muslims as Haram al Sharif. PLO and Turkish flags were raised during Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa.

Most of the thousands of worshipers dispersed peacefully after Friday prayers in the Old City. But hundreds of demonstrators burned Israeli flags while others chanted, “The war is approaching, Al-Quds Arabiya,” using the Arabic name for Jerusalem and declaring it an “Arab” city. Protesters also chanted, “Let us die as martyrs — there is no place for the State of Israel.”

A protest erupted briefly at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, and was cleared by police. Demonstrators threw objects at the security forces deployed there. Israel Radio said Arab members of Knesset were seen in the crowds.

In a Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

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