Israeli troops kill four Palestinians during protests

Over 150 others were wounded in rallies against Donald Trump’s Jerusalem move

 

Israeli troops shot dead four Palestinians and wounded more than 150 others with live fire on Friday, medical officials said, as protests over US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital entered a second week.

Most of the casualties were on the Gaza Strip border, where thousands of Palestinians gathered to hurl rocks at Israeli soldiers beyond the fortified fence. Medics said two protesters, one of them wheelchair-bound, were killed and 150 wounded.

In the occupied West Bank, an area where Palestinians are seeking statehood along with adjacent East Jerusalem, medics said two protesters were killed and 10 wounded by Israeli gunfire.

One of the dead was a man who Israeli police troopers said was shot after he stabbed a member of their unit. Reuters witnesses said the Palestinian held a knife and wore what looked like a bomb belt. A Palestinian medic who helped evacuate the man for treatment said the belt was fake.

Palestinians – and the wider Arab and Muslim world – were incensed at Trump’s December 6th announcement on Jerusalem, which reversed decades of US policy reticence on the city, where both Israel and the Palestinians want sovereignty.

Washington’s European allies and Russia have also voiced worries about Trump’s decision.

Gaza’s dominant Hamas group, which rejects coexistence with Israel, called last week for a new Palestinian uprising, but any such mass mobilisation has yet to be seen in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.

There have been almost nightly Gazan rocket launches into Israel following the news, so far without casualties. Israel has responded with air strikes on Hamas facilities, one of which killed two gunmen.

Border demonstration

The Israeli military said that, on Friday, about 3,500 Palestinians demonstrated near the Gaza border fence.

“During the violent riots, IDF (Israel Defence Force) soldiers fired selectively towards main instigators,” the military said in a statement.

A military spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the wheelchair-bound protester who was killed, Ibrahim Abu Thuraya. Abu Thuraya (29) was a regular at such demonstrations. In media interviews, he said he had lost both his legs in a 2008 Israeli missile strike in Gaza.

In the West Bank, the Israeli military said that about 2,500 Palestinians took part in riots, rolling flaming tyres and throwing fire bombs and rocks at soldiers and border police.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, an area laden with Jewish, Muslim and Christian shrines, from Jordan in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move not recognised internationally.

Palestinians hope that part of the city will be the capital of a future independent state and Palestinian leaders say Trump’s move is a serious blow to a moribund peace process.

Israel has welcomed Trump’s announcement as recognising political reality and biblical Jewish roots in Jerusalem. US vice-president Mike Pence is scheduled to visit Israel, as well as Egypt, next week.

– Reuters