Palestinians riot in W. Bank, Gaza in weekly protest of US Jerusalem recognition

Seven demonstrators said wounded by Israeli fire along Gaza border fence; two Israeli troops lightly hurt in West Bank riots

Palestinians burn tires during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the northern West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum on March 16, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)
Palestinians burn tires during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the northern West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum on March 16, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers Friday in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in a “day of rage” marking 100 days since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Some 150 Palestinians were said to have taken part in riots along the Gaza border, with the Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency reporting seven demonstrators were wounded by Israeli fire during the clashes.

In the West Bank, hundreds of Palestinians protested at a number of locations, with some throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at Israeli troops. Channel 10 reported that two Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded, with one taken to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba after a rock struck him in the face near Tulkarem.

Palestinian men evacuate an injured protester during clashes with Israeli troops along the border fence near Khan Yunis between in southern Gaza Strip on March 16, 2018. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Separately, a Palestinian driver hit four Israeli men with his car in a car-ramming terror attack, killing two of them and seriously injuring the others, outside the Mevo Dotan settlement in the northern West Bank.

The violent demonstrations came after Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip called Thursday for Palestinians to protest Trump’s decision by staging rallies after Friday prayers. The protests were being held under the banner of “Friday rage for Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian National and Islamic Forces, a coalition consisting of various groups, called on Palestinians to confront IDF soldiers and settlers immediately after prayers.

The groups said participation in the protests would send a message to Israel that the Palestinians have not, and will not, forget Trump’s unjust decision against the Palestinians.

Palestinians “will continue to protest against this decision and the plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, as well as attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause,” the groups said.

Israeli security forces chase Palestinian protesters during clashes at the main entrance to the West Bank city of Bethlehem on March 16, 2018. (AFP Photo/Musa Al Shaer)

On Thursday, Hamas issued a separate appeal to Palestinians to participate in Friday’s protests. The terror group that rules the Gaza Strip urged Palestinians to initiate clashes with IDF soldiers and settlers, saying the rage should continue until Trump’s decision is withdrawn.

The so-called “day of rage” was the latest in a series of weekly demonstrations, many of them violent, which have taken place since the December 6 announcement. The protests shrunk in size after the first few weeks.

Also Friday, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians issued a warning to Hamas, a day after two improvised explosive devices were detonated against a military patrol vehicle driving along the border in northern Gaza.

“The provocations by Hamas and other terrorist organizations could lead to an escalation” of violence along the Gaza border, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, wrote in his Facebook page.

He said the explosion could have damaged a nearby sewer treatment facility that serves 300,000 Palestinians in Gaza.

There were no Israeli injuries reported in the IED attack, to which the IDF responded with tank fire.

The army later said that an anti-tank missile appeared to have been fired at the patrol, but that it was still confirming this assessment.

It was not immediately clear which terrorist group in the Gaza Strip set off the explosives.

However, in accordance with its policy of holding Gaza’s Hamas rulers responsible for any act of violence emanating from the coastal enclave, the army said it targeted several of the organization’s military positions.

“IDF troops retaliated by firing from a tank at positions belonging to the Hamas terrorist group,” the army said.

The military later clarified that in addition to striking Hamas targets, it hit a site belonging to the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad group.

In total, the army said it struck five terrorist positions in Gaza.

Khaled Abu Toameh and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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