Protests came to a head across the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip on Friday, as Palestinians took the streets in protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and confirmation of the U.S. embassy’s subsequent transfer from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In Gaza, 30-year-old Mahmoud al-Masri was shot and killed by Israeli forces during protests that erupted into clashes with Israeli forces in the Khan Younis area of Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
In the occupied West Bank, protests were centered mostly in the Hebron, Ramallah and Bethlehem areas, with thousands of people taking to the streets in a “Day of Rage.”
More than 200 protesters were injured by Israeli forces during the clashes in the occupied West Bank, more than a dozen of which were shot and wounded with live fire, according to Palestinian Red Crescent Society documentation.
A local youth leader and director of a Bethlehem-area community center who asked to remain anonymous told Mondoweiss that clashes were not “as big as they could be,” due to the Fatah party’s involvement in scheduling the protests.
“The protests in the West Bank are being called for by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, so I don’t think the protests are really representing people’s feelings and attitudes towards what is happening,” the director said.
“The people are not happy with Abbas right now, and that is reflecting in the amount of people who are taking to streets. Yes there are hundreds of people in the streets and people are getting injured, it is not something to take lightly, but if the protests were not being launched by the PA and Fatah I think we would see massive participation, but right now people are feeling angry and a bit lost as to how we should be reacting.”
The youth director said he did not believe the demonstrations would continue for “more than a few days.”
“At the same time, nothing is clear, everything is up in the air on the ground here, most people are feeling desperate, I think most of the youth saw that Trump organized this plan to force the Palestinians to accept their solution and they think that Abbas will eventually give into this kind of pressure – which we think is what Trump is counting on — but that would be disastrous for our situation here.”
In addition to protests in the streets, Palestinian educational institutions, from primary schools to universities, declared a strike on Friday in accordance with a directive from the Palestinian Ministry of Education.
Meanwhile the official Hamas English Twitter page shared photos of demonstrations that have been held across the globe on Friday, including Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Ireland, Sweden and Chicago to name a few.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday to move the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize the city as the capital of Israel was a shock, but not unpredictable, as Trump had been threatening the move since his campaign for U.S. Presidency in 2016.
During the announcement on Wednesday, Trump said the move was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,” adding that the decades-long international policy to upkeep the status quo of Jerusalem brought the world “no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Palestinians however say the move was a red line in negotiations, that disqualify U.S. actors from playing a further role in negotiations.
Senior Palestinian official, Jibril Rajoub, has announced that Palestinians “will not receive” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during his scheduled visit later this month, a step applauded by the Palestinian street, even if skepticism remains.
“The Palestinian president has to take a strong stance against these U.S. actions – if not he is risking a lot – the Palestinian people have been frustrated with Abbas for a very long time,” the youth director said. “I think Abbas giving into U.S. Pressure in this case and normalizing the situation will push people over the edge. I think we could expect more intense demonstrations from that than what we are seeing now. I can say that really as of now, nothing is clear, this is new territory and we will have to wait and see how everything goes forward.”