Old City, occupied East Jerusalem — Almost immediately after US President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, breaking with decades of US foreign policy in the region, the unrest that dozens of Palestinian and world leaders warned about soon began to unfold.
On the night of the announcement, the streets of East Jerusalem were buzzing, as thousands of the city’s Palestinian residents braced for widespread demonstrations. Meanwhile in the West Bank, Palestinian national factions called for a general strike, ordering people to shutter their businesses and take to the streets in protest.
In the city of Bethlehem, as night fell and smaller protests popped up in Bethlehem’s Manger Square and the al-Deheishe refugee camp, cars drove slowly through the city, blasting messages from their speakers, calling on all the city’s residents to take to the streets on Thursday.
Mixed emotions in East Jerusalem
Though the city’s nearly 350,000 Palestinians were barely featured in Trump’s 12-minute-long speech, it is their livelihoods, that will likely be impacted the most as a result of US declaration and decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“If these decisions really go into effect, my life here in Jerusalem will become like a prison,” Abdullah Abu Jumua, 19, told Mondoweiss on Wednesday night, moments after the announcement.
“I will not accept a reality in which I am living in my homeland, but under the name of another country,” the teenager said, “Jerusalem is ours and no one can take it from us.”
While many Palestinians expressed fear and uncertainty for the future, those who spoke to Mondoweiss were almost overwhelming unsurprised, and unphased by the news.
“Trump is a crazy person,” a man by the name of Abu Saleh told Mondoweiss.
“He can say whatever he wants, but these are just words. At the end of the day, God will protect this holy land, and the injustice will end.”
Ahmad al-Rajeb, a young resident of the Old City, expressed similar sentiments, saying he “wasn’t surprised at all by the news.”
“It’s disgusting, but we knew this would happen. Trump and Netanyahu are one.”
Al-Rajeb, like many others, also recalled the massive two-week long civil disobedience campaign that Jerusalemite Palestinians staged over the summer, in response to Israeli efforts to change the status quo at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound by installing metal detectors at the gates.
“We hope the people will rise up in popular protest like they did in the summer, with Muslims and Christians praying and protesting side by side in solidarity,” al-Rajeb said.
“My message to Trump, is to stay in your place. This is a topic that will give you a headache, because once you touch Jerusalem, and the Palestinians get fired up, no one can calm us down.”
Abu Eyad, a 28-year-old resident of the city, told Mondoweiss that he has no doubt that another massive wave of popular resistance will erupt in the coming days.
“This is going to cause tensions and clashes. The people are more alert than ever before, he said. “They tried to change the status quo once before and we stopped them, and we will stop them again.”
“We are going to boycott, we are going to protest, and we are going show the world exactly what Jerusalem means to us,” Abu Eyad said.
“We are saying from now, that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, and we will never recognize Israel’s sovereignty over it.”
Confrontations escalate as Palestinians protest in West Bank and Gaza
Early Thursday morning, the tension in the West Bank was palpable as businesses, schools, and government institutions shuttered their doors.
By noon, following early afternoon prayers, demonstrations in every district of the West Bank and Gaza had set off, as Palestinian men, women, and children of all ages chanted national slogans saying “Jerusalem is Palestinian” and “America is the head of the snake.”
Many peaceful protests quickly turned violent as Israeli forces came out in large numbers in seam zone areas.
According to late-afternoon estimates by the Palestinian Red Crescent, there were at least 53 Palestinians injured, nine of whom were injured with live ammunition.
Five of the nine live-ammunition injuries occurred in Gaza, where Palestinians protested along the border lines with Israel. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported their conditions as light to moderate.
Meanwhile, Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah clashed with Israeli forces near the illegal Beit El settlement, resulting in the injury of four Palestinians with live ammunition.
In the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, Palestinians marched from the southern end of the city, along the main road, to Israel’s separation wall — which houses a military base and Rachel’s Tomb — in the north of the city.
Just as protesters arrived to the wall, Israeli forces began firing dozens of rounds of tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters.
According to medics at the scene, three Palestinians in Bethlehem were injured with rubber coated bullets, while two others — including one child — collapsed as a result of severe tear gas inhalation.
Hamas calls for another ‘intifada’ as reports emerge of rocket fire from Gaza
Head of Hamas’ politburo Ismail Haniyeh gave a speech on Thursday in which he called for another ‘intifada’ or “uprising,” against the Israeli occupation, and declared Friday December 8th as a “day of rage” in the West Bank and Gaza.
Haniyeh called upon the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) to “abandon the Oslo tunnel through which Palestinians have lived in pain and suffering and that has given the occupation the legitimacy to exist.”
“There is not a peace process anymore,” Haniyeh said.
Hours after his speech, reports from Arabic and Hebrew media reported that rockets had been fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, and that sirens were going off in southern Israel. It was later confirmed that the rockets landed inside the Gaza Strip.
Despite Trump calling for “calm” in the region during his speech, tensions across the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem are only expected to grow as the days continue.
Saleh Zghari also contributed to this report.