The Israel Defense Force (IDF) deployed reinforcements to the West Bank on Thursday as it braced for major Palestinian backlash against a controversial announcement by US President Donald Trump backing Israel's claim over the disputed city of Jerusalem.
Clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian protesters erupted in East Jerusalem، the West Bank، and Gaza Strip، while Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called for a new intifada ("uprising" in Arabic) to begin on Friday throughout the Palestinian territories، I24 News reported.
Trump's backing of Israel's claim over the holy city delivered a major blow to the Palestinians، who claim Arab-majority East Jerusalem as the capital of their desired state.
Expecting potentially violent fallout، the IDF sent several combat and intelligence battalions to reinforce the West Bank.
Palestinian media outlets reported that at last two people were injured in clashes with Israeli troops along the Gaza border fence near Khan Younis shortly after Haniya's speech.Clashes were also reported in several West Bank villages including Bethlehem، Hebron، Nabi Saleh، Bili'in، and Azon، as well as in several East Jerusalem neighborhoods including Shuafat.
Marches and protests were also underway، with crowds amassing at the Damascus Gate entry to Jerusalem's Old City as well as in the West Bank cities of Jenin and Ramallah، where the Palestinian Authority had called for a mass demonstration to be held Thursday.
Palestinians also held a general strike on Thursday in protest of Trump's move، with schools and shops closed.
Speaking from the Gaza Strip، Hamas chief Haniya condemned Trump's announcement as a "declaration of war" and urged Palestinians to "go out in anger" and defend the holy city.
"This Zionist policy supported by the US cannot be confronted unless we ignite a new intifada،" Haniya said، declaring an undivided Jerusalem as "the capital of all Palestine".Protests erupted almost immediately following Trump's announcement in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip، where Palestinians burned Israeli and American flags and images of the US president while chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."
Several thousand protesters gathered in several locations in Gaza. Several hundred also gathered in Bethlehem، where authorities snuffed out the lights of the city's massive Christmas tree in protest of the US move. Dozens of people also protested in Ramallah، several of whom fired weapons in the air.