Israeli forces clashed with young Palestinians in street battles across the occupied West Bank yesterday as Hamas called for a “new intifada” in response to Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Israeli military called up reinforcements in anticipation of larger clashes on Friday as thousands of young men are expected to take to the streets in protest after traditional Friday prayers.
The UN Security Council will also gather to discuss the inflamed situation in the Middle East after Britain and seven other states requested an emergency meeting in response to Mr Trump’s announcement.
Aftershocks of the US decision were also felt far beyond the region. In Amsterdam, a man with a Palestinian flag attacked a Jewish kosher restaurant in Amsterdam and demonstrators protested in cities across Pakistan.
Around 50 Palestinians suffered minor injuries during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem. Young men hurled stones and set tyres alight to block roads while Israeli troops fired teargas and rubber bullets in response.
In Bethlehem wafts of smoke rose among the Christmas decorations which already been hung in the streets leading to the Church of the Nativity, the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been born.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said two rockets were fired from Gaza on Thursday evening but both projectiles crashed to the ground within Gaza before reaching Israel. The rockets are believed to have been fired by a smaller Salafist group and not Hamas.
“This Zionist policy supported by the US cannot be confronted unless we ignite a new intifada,” said Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, during a speech in Gaza. “The US decision is an aggression, a declaration of war on us, on the best Muslim and Christian shrines in the heart of Palestine, Jerusalem.”
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbollah, the Lebanese militant group supported by Iran, said he supported the call for a new Palestinian intifada soon after the Hamas speech.
Both Hizbollah and Hamas have considerable arsenals but neither group said that they planned to turn them on Israel in retaliation for Mr Trump’s announcement.
Israeli intelligence has said in the past that it believes neither Hamas nor Hizbollah is eager for a direct military confrontation with Israeli forces but…