Gaza under siege after Trump’s Jerusalem move

2017-12-10 05:53
Palestinian protesters run away from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza City on Friday. Palestinians called for a ‘day of rage’ in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday. Picture: Reuters.

Palestinian protesters run away from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza City on Friday. Palestinians called for a ‘day of rage’ in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday. Picture: Reuters.

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An Israeli air raid on Friday night on the besieged Gaza Strip led to 25 Palestinians being wounded, including six children, in clashes ignited by US President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision on Wednesday to declare ­Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

Trump undertook to move his country’s embassy to the city amid global condemnation from world leaders, which sparked heavy protests in the occupied West Bank, east Jerusalem and besieged Gaza this week. Two Palestinians were killed. The status of Jerusalem remains one of the main sticking points in efforts to resolve the Palestinian­Israeli conflict.

In the latest diplomatic fallout, the US stood alone as, one after another, fellow UN Security Council members criticised Trump’s decision during an emergency meeting of the world body.

According to the Palestinian health department, Israel conducted the air raid on Friday night following the ­alleged launching of rockets from inside the Gaza Strip. Israeli ­media said the targets were Hamas military ­installations.

One rocket was reportedly intercepted by Israel’s US-built Iron Dome missile defence system over the southern Israeli city of Sderot, while the second did not reach Israeli territory. A third rocket allegedly fired from Gaza exploded in Sderot, according to the Israeli daily newspaper ­Haaretz. No casualties were reported.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem at the end of the 1967 war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan; the western half of the holy city had been captured in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. This was despite the existence of the 1947 UN Partition Plan to divide historical Palestine between Jewish and ­Arab states. Under this plan, Jerusalem was granted special ­status and was meant to be placed under international ­sovereignty and control. The special status was based on Jerusalem’s religious importance to the three Abrahamic religions.

However, Israel’s occupation of east Jerusalem effectively put the entire city under de facto Israeli control. Israeli jurisdiction and ownership of Jerusalem, however, was not recognised by the international community, including the US, until Trump unilaterally changed his country’s ­position this week. However, Russia also announced its recognition of west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel earlier this year.

Palestinians see east Jerusalem, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967, as the capital of their future state.

Images circulating on Twitter yesterday appeared to show some of the victims of Friday’s bombing in Gaza, including an infant and an older man.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Gaza on Wednesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called Trump’s move a “flagrant ­aggression”.

“We call on stopping this decision fully because this will usher in the beginning of a time of terrible transformations, not just on the Palestinian level, but on the region as a whole. This decision means the official announcement of the end of the peace process,” Haniya said.

Saudi Arabia pulled no punches when it condemned Trump’s move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital, but Palestinian officials say Riyadh has also been working for weeks behind the scenes to press them to support a ­nascent US peace plan.

Although the Saudi royal court described Trump’s ­decision as “unjustified and irresponsible”, and “a big step back in efforts to advance the peace process”, Arab ­officials privately say that Riyadh appeared to be on board with a broader US strategy for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan still in its early phases of development.

Palestinian officials fear, and many Arab officials ­suspect, that by closing the door on east Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state, Trump will align with Israel in offering the Palestinians limited self-government inside disconnected patches of the occupied West Bank, with no right of return for refugees displaced by the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967.

The US-Saudi relationship has improved dramatically ­under Trump, partly because the leaders share a vision of confronting Riyadh’s archrival Iran more aggressively in the region. – Staff reporter with news agencies ­Reuters, AFP and Al Jazeera

Read more on:    donald trump  |  palestine  |  israel

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