Posts Tagged ‘Israeli soldiers’

UN calls on Israel to rein in security forces at Gaza border

April 6, 2018

A picture taken on April 6, 2018 from the southern Israeli kibbutz of Nahal Oz across the border from the Gaza strip shows Palestinian men protesting, burning tires. (AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ)

A picture taken on April 6, 2018 from the southern Israeli kibbutz of Nahal Oz across the border from the Gaza strip shows Palestinian men protesting, burning tires. (AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ)


GENEVA: The UN human rights office urged Israel on Friday to ensure that its security forces do not use excessive force against Palestinian protesters at the Gaza-Israel border.
Firearms should only be used as a last resort, and unjustified recourse to their use may amount to willful killing of civilians, a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, UN human rights spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell told a briefing.
A Palestinian died on Friday of wounds suffered a week ago during protests against Israel along the enclave’s border, health ministry officials said. That raised to 20 the death toll in confrontations with Israeli soldiers that began on March 30.

Campaign urges Israel soldiers to refuse to shoot unarmed Palestinians

April 5, 2018


© AFP | A Palestinian demonstrator throws stones at Israeli soldiers across the border (background) east of Gaza City on March 30, 2018

JERUSALEM (AFP) – A prominent campaign by an Israeli rights group on Thursday urged soldiers to refuse to shoot at unarmed Palestinians as tensions increased ahead of new protests along the Gaza border.The campaign by the B’Tselem NGO, which included advertisements in Israeli newspapers, led Israel’s public security minister to suggest the group should be investigated for calling for sedition.

The calls come after a mass protest along the Gaza border last Friday that led to clashes with Israeli forces, who killed 17 Palestinians. New mass protests are expected again on Friday.

B’Tselem’s campaign included advertisements saying: “Sorry Commander, I cannot shoot.”

“Soldier, rules of engagement that can cause the death of civilians who do not pose a danger to human lives are illegal,” the NGO said.

Israel has pledged to stop attempts to damage the heavily fortified fence on the Gaza border and to prevent illegal infiltrations, including with live fire if necessary.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued another warning this week, saying those who approach the fence will put “their life in danger”.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel’s army radio on Thursday that he had asked the attorney general to examine whether B’Tselem should be investigated for “calling for sedition.”

“Concerning rules of engagement, soldiers treat any activity putting Israel’s security in danger as terrorist acts,” he said.

Israel’s use of live fire last week has come under criticism from rights groups, while the European Union and UN chief Antonio Guterres have called for an independent investigation.

Israel has defended its soldiers’ actions, saying they opened fire only when necessary against those throwing stones and firebombs or rolling tyres at soldiers.

It said there were attempts to damage the fence and infiltrate Israel, while alleging there was also an attempted gun attack against soldiers along the border.

Israel accuses Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, of using the protests as cover to carry out violence.

Palestinians say protesters were fired on while posing no threat to soldiers.

UN Chief Calls for Independent Investigation Into Palestinian Deaths at Gaza Border

March 31, 2018

Senior UN official: ‘Israel must uphold its responsibilities under international human rights, humanitarian law’ after at least 15 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire

.Protesters run for cover during clashes with Israeli security forces in a demonstration commemorating near Gaza's border with Israel on March 30, 2018.
Protesters run for cover during clashes with Israeli security forces in a demonstration commemorating near Gaza’s border with Israel on March 30, 2018.SAID KHATIB/AFP

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent and transparent investigation into the deaths and injuries along Gaza’s border with Israel, his spokesman said in a statement Friday.

At least 16 Palestinians were killed earlier on Friday in clashes along the Gaza-Israel border as 30,000 Gazans participated in the “March of Return,” a series of mass protests slated to continue for weeks.

Organizers of the march said they plan to return to the border fence Saturday in memory of the killed.

The UN Security Council was slated to gather for an emergency meeting after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the organization to provide protection for Palestinian demonstrators.

A senior United Nations official told the Security Council on Friday that the situation in Gaza “might deteriorate in the coming days” and called for civilians, particularly children, not be targeted.

“Israel must uphold its responsibilities under international human rights and humanitarian law. Lethal force should only be used as a last resort with any resulting fatalities properly investigated by the authorities,” UN deputy political affairs chief Taye-Brook Zerihoun said.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 1,416 people were wounded in the clashes: 758 from live fire, 148 from rubber-tipped bullets, 422 from inhaling tear gas and 88 from other causes.

<<Gaza mass protests force Israeli military to maneuver between two contradictory goals | Analysis

In a separate incident, the Israeli military exchanged fire with two armed Palestinians who approached the border fence and opened fire toward Israeli soldiers. The IDF targeted three Hamas positions with tank fire and Israel Air Force fighter jets in response.

The Israeli military declared the area along the border a closed military zone, responding with live ammunition and other riot control methods in hopes of dispersing the protests. The army has also fired artillery at Hamas and Islamic Jihad positions in the Strip.

The “March of Return” marks Land Day, a day Palestinians worldwide have commemorated since 1976, when Israeli security forces shot dead six Israeli Arabs who were protesting the expropriation of Arab-owned land in northern Israel to build Jewish communities. About 100 others were wounded and hundreds were arrested during the protest on March 30 of that year.

Backed by the Hamas government in Gaza, Palestinians have established several tent camps housing thousands near the border. Thousands of Palestinians will camp out near the fence as an extended protest until Nakba Day in mid-May, with weekly demonstrations on Fridays.

Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir said that Hamas was attempting to carry out attacks under the guise of demonstrations, adding that “We recommend to civilians not to come near [the fence], and warn Hamas that it is responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip with all its consequences.”

Egypt, Jordan and the Arab League condemned Israel for what they termed excessive force against demonstrators. The committee organizing the march appealed to the United Nations and Arab League to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate what they call Israel’s excessive force against Palestinian demonstrators. They added that demonstrations will continue on Saturday in memory of those killed on Friday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that Saturday will be a day of mourning in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian casualties, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and local media, have so far been identified as: Mahmoud Saudi Rachmi, 33, killed by gunfire in eastern Gaza; Jihad Faranh, 34, killed in eastern Gaza; Mohammed Kamal al-Nagar, 25, killed in Jabalia; Mahmoud Abu Maomar, 27, killed during clashes in Rafah; Iyad Abed Al-el; Ahmed Ibrahim Odeh, 19, killed by gunfire in the northern Gaza Strip; Abed al-Qader al-Khawajri, 42; and Abdullah Abu Hajir, 25.

Haaretz reported that a seven-year-old girl was sent to the border fence by Hamas. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, the military made sure she was safely returned to her parents.

In a statement, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said “The IDF deployed large numbers of troops in advance and is prepared to act in different scenarios. We will not allow a violation of Israel’s sovereignty or an attack on the infrastructures defending the fence.”



Palestinians Hold Protests Against Backdrop of Crumbling Gaza Economy

March 31, 2018

At least 15 Palestinians are killed in clashes with Israeli forces during demonstrations along the border

GAZA CITY—Tens of thousands of Palestinian protesters massed Friday along the Israeli border, as Western officials warn the economic situation in Gaza is at breaking point, raising the risk of civil unrest or even war.


At least 15 Palestinians died in clashes with the Israeli military and more than 1,000 were injured, Palestinian authorities said. Crowds rolled burning tires and threw stones and fire bombs at Israeli soldiers, the Israeli army said.

Friday’s demonstrations called for a right to return to homes in what is now Israel. But Gaza’s flat-lining economy—battered by fighting, blockades and an intensifying power struggle between Palestinian factions—has further inflamed tensions.

Members of the Palestinian Civil Defense carried a man who was injured during clashes with Israeli security forces on Friday.
Members of the Palestinian Civil Defense carried a man who was injured during clashes with Israeli security forces on Friday. PHOTO: WISSAM NASSAR/DPA/ZUMA PRESS

Growth is near zero, unemployment is 44% and consumer spending has plummeted in this strip of Palestinian territory, sandwiched between Israel and the Mediterranean Sea.

Gazans live with three to six hours of electricity per day due to shortages and more than half of the strip’s nearly two million residents receive food assistance from the United Nations.

The economic situation is so dire that some warn it could lead Gaza’s rulers, the extremist group Hamas, to start a war with Israel. U.S. and Israeli officials believe Hamas started a conflict with Israel in 2014 in part because Israeli and Egyptian officials squeezed the group economically.

Gaza is on the brink of “total institutional and economic collapse,” Nickolay Mladenov, U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process told the Security Council last month. “This is not an alarmist prediction…it is a fact.”

A beggar walked through Al Zawiya market in Gaza last week.
A beggar walked through Al Zawiya market in Gaza last week. PHOTO: WISSAM NASSAR FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Israel strictly limits the flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza. And an internecine struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, on which it depends for funds, has made the situation worse.

The authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, last year began cutting salaries of Gaza’s 40,000 doctors, teachers and other public sector employees in a bid to pressure Hamas to surrender control of Gaza’s government. The Palestinian Authority says it plans further reductions.

Business SlumpGaza merchants are making fewer tripsoutside the enclave, reflecting tighter Israeliborder control and fewer economic prospects.Palestinian merchant exits from GazaSource: Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom ofMovement
Dim OutlookA drop in consumer spending and trade isstifling economic growth.Gaza GDP, change from previous yearSource: The World BankNote: 2017 through September

Despite the rift between Hamas and Fatah, both factions blame their economic situation on Israel. Israel jointly manages security with Palestinian forces in the West Bank but remains in conflict with Hamas, which Israeli officials say spends tens of millions of dollars a year on its military.

For Mohammed Sebakhy’s falafel business, the impact of all the economic dislocation has been devastating. Today, he says, he is lucky if he can ring up sales of $50 a day—half the amount he made on an average day last year.

Falafels, fried balls of chickpeas, are ubiquitous in Gaza, where it is one of the most affordable foods, but fewer people can afford to buy even this modest fare. As patrons dwindle, Mr. Sebakhy says he has discounted his falafels, laid off one worker and cut the wages of another.

“We are so down,” said the 24-year-old Mr. Sebakhy, wearing a tattered sweater in his dimly lighted shop. “I don’t know how long we can survive.”

Due to the depressed economy and weak consumer spending, the number of trucks crossing into Gaza from Israel fell to 8,205 in February down from a monthly peak last year of 12,183 in January 2017, according to Tel Aviv-based nonprofit Gisha.

Image result for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, photos

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh

U.N. and World Bank officials also are now worried that U.S. cuts to refugee body Unrwa to encourage reforms threaten the jobs of thousands of aid workers in the strip.

The organizers of Friday’s protest had planned the event for weeks.

“This is a message to Trump that our people will not give Jerusalem or Palestine,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said at the event, referring to the U.S. leader’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “This march is the beginning of the return to all of Palestine.”

The Al Nada towers in Gaza were destroyed during the last war between Hamas and Israel in 2014.
The Al Nada towers in Gaza were destroyed during the last war between Hamas and Israel in 2014. PHOTO: WISSAM NASSAR FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

More than one million Gazan residents are refugees from the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars, according to the U.N. Israel has said that it won’t allow significant numbers of Palestinians to return to Israel as it would threaten the state’s Jewish majority.

Israeli officials this week became increasingly concerned about the scale of the protest, deploying troops to the border and warning Gazans that soldiers would use live fire on those breaching the security fence.

“To Gaza inhabitants, Hamas is gambling with your lives,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted in Arabic on Friday. “You go close to the fence, you put your life in danger.”

International pledges amounting to $3.5 billion to reconstruct the strip began boosting the economy in 2015 and 2016, but delivery of that cash slowed last year, according to the World Bank. Aid for reconstruction fell to $55 million last year from $400 million in 2016, while donors until this month had disbursed only $1.88 billion of the total pledges, the bank says.

Mr. Abbas and Hamas have been in talks on returning control of the strip to the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by the Fatah party, but negotiations broke down in recent weeks over a refusal by Hamas to disarm its militant wing.

Mohammed Sebakhy’s falafel business in Gaza has been devastated by the deteriorated economy.
Mohammed Sebakhy’s falafel business in Gaza has been devastated by the deteriorated economy. PHOTO:WISSAM NASSAR FOR THE WALL STREE

With talks stalled, some analysts say Hamas is likely to continue to promote armed resistance against Israel, even as it redirects some income from arms procurement to support the economy and govern Gaza.

Hamas “will continue in investing money and resources in their military capabilities,” said Kobi Michael, senior research fellow at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies. “They haven’t neglected the idea of armed resistance against Israel.”

Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman, said the group doesn’t want a war with Israel but that the economic situation could lead to an explosion of anger among Gazans. A spokesman for Mr. Abbas didn’t respond to a request for comment.

With the prospect of another conflict looming, Israeli and U.S. officials are scrambling for ways to ease strains on the strip. White House adviser to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Jason Greenblatt, convened a meeting earlier this month in Washington with Israel and 20 international donor states and discussed potential aid projects.

Palestinian children played outside their home in a refugee camp during a power cut. Power outages happen regularly in Gaza.
Palestinian children played outside their home in a refugee camp during a power cut. Power outages happen regularly in Gaza. PHOTO: WISSAM NASSAR/XINHUA/ZUMA PRESS

“Israel is trying to facilitate international aid to avoid an escalation in violence and keep stability in the area,” an Israeli official said.

For ordinary Gazans, the threat of conflict takes a back seat to finding enough cash to eat. Mr. Sebakhy, the falafel vendor, said Friday he didn’t plan to go down to the demonstration.

“It is dangerous there,” he said. “And I can’t leave my shop.”

One of his customers owes him 400 shekels for the past few months. And one family in this neighborhood stopped walking past his shop as they are too ashamed to owe him money, he said.

“I can’t be here knowing there’s a family that can’t afford breakfast or dinner,” Mr. Sebakhy said. “I’d love to see people getting paid again.”

Israeli security forces stood on a hill as a Palestinian man waved the national flag during the demonstration on Friday.
Israeli security forces stood on a hill as a Palestinian man waved the national flag during the demonstration on Friday. PHOTO: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Write to Rory Jones at

Appeared in the March 31, 2018, print edition as ‘Palestinians Protest, as Gaza Woes Mount.’



Two Israeli Soldiers Killed in West Bank Car-ramming Attack — Islamic Jihad: “These are legitimate acts by the Palestinian people, meant to defend themselves and their lands and their holy sites.”

March 17, 2018


ourth soldier moderately wounded ■ Driver questioned at the scene ■ Hamas says attack comes 100 days after Trump’s Jerusalem recognition

.A member of the Israeli security forces stands next to the destroyed vehicle that was used by a Palestinian assailant in a car-ramming attack, West Bank, March 16, 2018.
A member of the Israeli security forces stands next to the destroyed vehicle that was used by a Palestinian assailant in a car-ramming attack, West Bank, March 16, 2018.JACK GUEZ/AFP

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and two others were wounded Friday in a car-ramming attack near the West Bank settlement of Reihan.

The victims were taken to Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Hospital by helicopter. According to the hospital, one of the wounded soldiers suffered a head injury and is in critical condition, while the fourth victim sustained moderate wounds.

The attacker, Ala Rateb Abd al-Latif Kabha

The attacker, Ala Rateb Abd al-Latif Kabha

According to the Israeli military, the deadly incident was a terror attack deliberately targeting soldiers. The driver, Ala Rateb Abd al-Latif Kabha, who has served a prison sentence for security felonies, was arrested and questioned at the scene. He sustained light to moderate injuries and was taken to a hospital near Hadera.

Kabha, 27, is a resident of the town of Barta’a, which straddles the Green Line. Kabha was discharged in April 2017 after serving a 17-month prison term. The Shin Bet said he has been taken in for interrogation.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, has ordered the immediate suspension of work permits for Kabha’s family, which has 67 work permits in Israel and 26 commerce permits.

A relative told Haaretz that Kabha is a house painter. “He came to Jenin to purchase paint and was on his way home. He’s not politically affiliated or a part of any organization. We believe this is an unfortunate accident and not a terrorist attack, as they claim,” the relative said.

In a statement, Hamas stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack but noted that the car ramming happened exactly 100 days after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

One of the wounded arrives at Bellinson hospital, March 16, 2018
One of the wounded arrives at Bellinson hospital, March 16, 2018Nir Keidar
Snapshot of a video from the scene
Snapshot of a video from the sceneMDA Israel Spokesperson

Islamic Jihad stated that they “commend the continued intensification of attacks against the occupation’s soldiers and settlers. These are legitimate acts by the Palestinian people, meant to defend themselves and their lands and their holy sites.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, writing on his Twitter account, condemned the attack as an act of terrorism supported by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and promised that “we will act” for the destruction of the terrorist’s home and the punishment of all those who aided him.

Earlier this month, an Israeli Border Police officer and two soldiers were lightly wounded in two separate car-ramming attacks in the northern Israeli city of Acre. The driver was shot by a witness and was hospitalized in critical condition.

Palestinians Killed By Israelis in Gaza flare-up after soldiers were wounded by an explosive device

February 18, 2018



Israeli soldiers and border police stand guard as Israeli hydraulic shovels demolish a Palestinian building near road 35, north of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron in the so-called “Area C” on February 14, 2018. (Hazem Bader/AFP)

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli army fire in Gaza in a flare-up after soldiers were wounded by an explosive device along the Palestinian enclave’s border, Gaza medical sources said Sunday.

The fatalities were identified by the Gaza health ministry as Salam Sabah and Abdullah Abu Sheikha, both 17, who were killed during a strike east of Rafah in southern Gaza.

According to Palestinian eye witnesses, the two were killed by shots near the border.

The Israeli army said that its forces had fired “warning shots” at a number of Palestinians approaching the border fence “in a suspicious manner.”

Their death comes after Israel launched a series of air strikes targeting 18 “terror targets belonging to Hamas” in Gaza, after the explosive device wounded soldiers and a projectile from Gaza hit in an Israeli border town.



Explosion in Gaza Wounds Four Israeli Soldiers —

February 17, 2018


JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An explosive device wounded four Israeli soldiers, two severely, near the border fence with the Gaza Strip on Saturday, the Israeli military said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which occurred along the southern frontier of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory.

In response, an Israeli tank struck an observation post in Gaza, causing no injuries.

Israeli media said it was the highest number of Israelis wounded in a single attack since the 2014 Gaza war.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Edmund Blair



Israeli army shells Rafah in Gaza after a bomb explosion injured its soldiers


File Photo for an Israeli soldier standing near a tank near the border with the Gaza Strip
JERUSALEM: The Israeli military says one of its tanks has struck an observation post in the southern Gaza Strip in response to the detonation of an explosive device along its border.
Palestinian officials say Saturday’s target belonged to the ‘Islamic Jihad’ militant group and there were no casualties.
The Israeli response came as Palestinian sources confirmed that 3 Israeli soldiers were injured as their vehicle was struck by an explosive device while travelling close to the border with Rafah in the Gaza Strip.
The exchange is typical of the post 2014 war reality established along the volatile frontier in which Israel carries out limited retaliations to any militant provocations in Gaza. The border area has generally been quiet since the war, but has seen an increase in violence since President Donald Trump’s announcement in December recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Israel holds Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory, regardless of who carries them out.

Another Palestinian Dead After Clashes With Israeli Forces

December 23, 2017


Above, Palestinian protesters carry a wounded comrade during clashes with Israeli soldiers near the border fence east of Gaza City on Friday, December 22. (AFP)

GAZA CITY: A Palestinian died on Saturday after being wounded by Israeli fire during a protest on the Gaza border against US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Health Ministry said.

Sharaf Shalash, 28, sustained bullet wounds last Sunday during a demonstration east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said.

His death brings to 11 the number of Palestinians killed since US President Donald Trump announced on Dec. 6 that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Nine protesters have died in clashes with Israeli troops, two of them on Friday. Two others were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza earlier in the month.
Shalash and the two Palestinians killed on Friday were buried on Saturday, in Gaza City, Beit Hanun and Jabalia.
After the Shalash funeral in Jabalia, Palestinians went to the border with Israel where they threw stones at soldiers, who responded with tear gas and live bullets.
One Palestinian was wounded, Qudra said.
A UN General Assembly resolution passed on Thursday, rejecting US President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 Jerusalem declaration, did little to calm Palestinian anger over his reversal of decades-old US policy on the contested holy city.
Most countries regard the status of Jerusalem as a matter to be settled in an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, although that process is now stalled.
A total of 128 countries voted for the UN resolution. Nine opposed it and 35 abstained. Twenty-one countries did not cast a vote.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a Christmas message, called the US move “an insult to millions of people worldwide, and also to the city of Jerusalem.”
Abbas also said Palestinians would reject new Middle East peace proposals to be unveiled by US President Donald Trump early next year.
“The United States has proved to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process and we will no longer accept any plan from it,” he told a joint press conference in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron repeated his earlier condemnation of the US decision, but he also ruled out recognizing Palestine as a state, which France has considered before.
“The Americans have marginalized themselves and I am trying to not do the same thing,” Macron said.
Abbas praised Macron at the news conference, which was notable for the warmth of the exchanges and the relaxed body language.
Macron said he had “committed myself very clearly to doing everything” to further the peace process and would visit the Palestinian territories in 2018 and “intensify” contacts between the French and Palestinian governments.
The US decision on Jerusalem continues to reverberate in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Fresh Palestinian protests against Trump Jerusalem decision

December 15, 2017


© AFP / by Joe Dyke | Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem’s Old City

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Thousands of Palestinians took part in fresh protests Friday against Washington’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but a week on there is no sign of a threatened new intifada.US President Donald Trump’s December 6 announcement that he would break with decades of American policy and move his embassy to Jerusalem has stirred international condemnation, as well as protests across the Palestinian territories and Arab world.

Four Palestinians have been killed, with more than 1000 wounded, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Protesters have burned American and Israeli flags and trampled on pictures of Trump. But concerns that the decision would lead to a major wave of bloodshed have as yet not materialised.

Protests broke out across the Palestinian territories for the second Friday in a row after the end of weekly Muslim prayers, often a catalyst for clashes between young Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.

In Gaza, the strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas had called for another ‘day of rage’ against the decision, with tens of thousands taking to the streets.

Clashes were expected along the border with Israel later Friday.

In the occupied West Bank, a few thousand people gathered in the southern city of Hebron, as well as Nablus in the north, with clashes near the Al-Arroub camp, south of Bethlehem.

In Jerusalem itself, around 30,000 people prayed at the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims, the Islamic organisation that administers the site said.

The vast majority left without incident, but small scuffles broke out in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel seized control of the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and sees the whole of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians view the east as the capital of their future state.

For decades global powers have avoided taking an opinion, keeping their embassies in Tel Aviv instead.

Trump declared, however, that he would move the embassy and recognised the city as Israel’s capital.

Amid condemnation from much of the international community, the Palestinians have announced they will no longer view the Americans as mediator in negotiations with the Israelis.

A poll conducted after Trump’s announcement by the respected Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found 45 percent of Palestinians supported a violent popular uprising, up from 35 percent three months prior.

Khalil Shikaki, the center’s director, said the “only possible explanation” for the increase was Trump’s decision.

He said, however, the effectiveness of the Israeli forces and the Palestinian security forces’ ongoing security cooperation with them had ensured the protests in the West Bank remained relatively minor in scale.

While angered by Trump’s declaration, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has not instructed his party Fatah or security forces to cut ties with Israel.

“Hamas is too weak in the West Bank to carry out any serious attacks (and) Fatah does not want to engage in violence,” Shikaki said.

“This is not likely to change any time soon.”

Image result for Ismail Haniya, photos

Ismail Haniya with Iran’s Supreme Leader

“We ask churches, the Pope and our Christian brothers to devote their Sunday prayers to Jerusalem,” he added.

Image result for Ismail Haniya, photos

Ismail Haniya

In Gaza, hermetically sealed off by Israel and Egypt, at least 12 rockets or mortars have been fired from the territory since Trump’s announcement, with Israel hitting at least 10 sites in reply.

But the response has been relatively muted compared to some of the warnings, said Ofer Zalzberg, Israel-based analyst with the International Crisis Group think-tank.

He said the lack of serious blowback to Trump’s announcement had encouraged right wingers in Israel’s government to question whether “maybe other things that people said were impossible are not”.

by Joe Dyke

Israel Vows To Destroy Iranian Positions Within 40 KM of Syrian Border

November 26, 2017
 NOVEMBER 26, 2017 09:39

Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly offered Netanyahu a comprehensive deal that would include a demilitarized zone stretching 40 kilometers from the border.

Israeli soldiers stand atop tanks overlooking the border between Israel and Syria

Israeli soldiers stand atop tanks overlooking the border between Israel and Syria. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)

Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida revealed on Sunday that an Israeli source disclosed a promise from Jerusalem to destroy all Iranian facilities within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of Israel’s Golan Heights.

The source, who remains unnamed, said that during Syrian President Bashar Assad’s surprise visit to Russia last week, Assad gave Russian Premier Vladimir Putin a message for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Damascus will agree to a demilitarized zone of up to 40 kilometers from the border in the Golan Heights as part of a comprehensive agreement between the two countries, but only if Israel does not work to remove Assad’s regime from power.

The report also claims that Putin then called Netanyahu to relay the message, and that the Israeli prime minister said he would be willing to accept the deal, but that Israel’s goal of eradicating Iran and Hezbollah from the country would remain.

According to the source, Jerusalem sees Assad as the last president of the Alawite community, indicating that a change of regime in Syria – at least towards a government less-linked to Iran – would be favorable for Israel. The Alawites are a minority Shi’ite community in Syria, and have long been supported by Iran, which seeks to extend its influence from the Gulf across the region to the Mediterranean.

The source also commented that after the defeat of the Islamic State, the conflict in Syria would become ”more difficult,” likely pointing towards a vacuum that would be left without the group. Russian, Syrian and Iranian-backed forces have been fighting against ISIS, while also seeking to knock out rebel groups that oppose the current regime. Russia’s stated interests have been in line with Iran’s in wanting to keep Assad in power.

Israel has participated mostly on the periphery of the war in Syria, responding to fire on the northern border and occasionally bombing positions, including a weapons depot and scientific research center that allegedly produces chemical weapons. Damascus and Jerusalem have exchanged heated remarks as well, with Netanyahu threatening to bomb Assad’s palace, and Syrian officials warning of ‘‘dangerous repercussions” to Israeli strikes on Syrian targets.

Over the course of the war, Israel has operated several field hospitals near the Syrian border, where those injured from the war are treated and subsequently returned to Syria. Some of those who have been treated have been rebels fighting against the Assad regime, leading some to say that Israel is assisting the rebels to unseat Assad.

Yasser Okbi contributed to this report.