Thousands of Palestinians protested throughout the Gaza Strip on Tuesday ahead of the release of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan later in the day.
In Gaza City, the protesters burned pictures of Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and raised a banner reading “Palestine is not for sale.”
During the rally, the Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, expressed rare support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah movement, welcoming his call for a broad meeting of Palestinian factions.
Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said Hamas and “all the factions” would join the meeting, planned for after the Trump plan is announced. He said: “When we are united, neither Netanyahu nor Trump dare to take away our rights.”
The Islamic Jihad terror group also announced it would attend the meeting with Abbas, who has boycotted the US administration and refused to look at the US proposal.
Similar protests were held elsewhere in the Gaza Strip Tuesday, including in Rafah, the Bureij refugee camp, and in at least three points along the border with Israel.
The Hebrew-language Walla news site said at least a hundred demonstrators were near the border, with the Israeli military using riot control methods and estimating that the protests could continue into the night.
Hamas, an Islamist group that openly seeks Israel’s destruction, seized Gaza from forces loyal to Abbas in 2007. Several attempts to reconcile the two factions have failed, which many say has weakened the Palestinian cause. Hamas representatives rarely take part in meetings of the Palestinian Authority.
The meeting will be held in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian officials said.
Trump is set to unveil a peace plan he hoped would solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at 7 p.m. Tuesday during a joint appearance with Netanyahu.
The Palestinians reject the plan, accusing Trump of pro-Israel bias, and a series of protests were planned in both the West Bank and Gaza on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Abbas indicated his approval for activists’ calls for a day of rage, instructing his security forces not to intervene in protests, Israeli news site Ynet reported.
Israel’s military has begun preparing for the possibility of violence once the plan is released. On Tuesday, it called up extra troops to the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, which Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to annex.
Reports about the plan claim it includes an endorsement of Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and significant parts of the West Bank.
While reliable information about the plan’s details remain elusive, recent reports indicate that it would offer a redrawn border between Israel and the West Bank that would incorporate large settlements into Israel as well as “some form” of Israeli security control over the disputed territory.
According to The Washington Post, the plan would also initially offer Palestinians limited autonomy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, eventually leading up to “conditional sovereignty,” or limited statehood on condition of demilitarization and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
The Palestinians have harshly condemned the proposal even before its release, with the PA urging Arab ambassadors in the US not to attend its unveiling.
On Sunday, Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh suggested that the Palestinians could dissolve the PA in response to the plan.
Trump said Monday, with Netanyahu by his side in the White House, that without the Palestinians “we don’t do the deal.”
Trump predicted that the Palestinians will “ultimately” come round to giving their support.
“They probably won’t want it initially. I think in the end they will,” he said. “I think in the end they’re going to want it. It’s very good for them. In fact, it’s overly good to them. So we’ll see what happens. Now without them, we don’t do the deal. And that’s okay.”
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.