Two Palestinians shot in Bethlehem as clashes continue over embassy move

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Demonstrations in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories have seen hundreds injured in recent days

A Palestinian protester gestures towards Israeli forces during clashes at the main entrance of the West Bank town of Bethlehem (AFP)
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Sunday 10 December 2017 17:01 UTC
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Two Palestinians were shot following clashes in the West Bank on Sunday as protesters continue to react to the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The two men approached an Israeli military watchtower at the northern end of Bethlehem. As they approached the wall, Israeli soldiers from the tower fired live ammunition at them.

Two eyewitnesses who work at a nearby restaurant told Middle East Eye they heard shots fired and saw one injured young man running away from the tower, through the al-Azza refugee camp towards the main road, where a civilian car picked him up and took him to the hospital.

The eyewitnesses ran towards the second injured Palestinian, who was bleeding on the ground, and carried him to al-Azza camp, from where locals took him to hospital

MEE contributor Akram al-Wa’ra followed the second car to the hospital, and when he arrived he saw the two injured boys being taken into surgery.

Sources from the hospital told MEE that one of the young men was shot once in the leg, while the other was shot four times in the legs.

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.

The incident follows the stabbing of an Israeli security guard at Jerusalem's main bus station, as tensions continue to rise over the embassy announcement.

Four days of street protests in the Palestinian territories over Trump's announcement on Wednesday have largely died down, but his overturning of long-standing US policy on Jerusalem - a city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians - drew more Arab warnings of potential damage to prospects for Middle East peace.

In Beirut, Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water cannons on Sunday at demonstrators near the US Embassy as they protested against Washington's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

An AFP correspondent in Awkar outside the capital Beirut said several hundred pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered near the US Embassy, located in the area.

They were blocked from reaching the complex by a metal gate sealing the road leading to the embassy, and security forces fired tear gas and water cannons to repel demonstrators who tried to open the gate by force.

Middle East Eye reported from the scene:

Protesters, some of them waving Palestinian flags, set fires in the street and threw projectiles towards security forces who had barricaded the main road to the embassy.

Some demonstrators attempted to remove a roadblock protecting the embassy in an attempt to break in.

Addressing the protesters, the head of the Lebanese Communist Party, Hanna Gharib, declared the United States "the enemy of Palestine" and the US Embassy "a symbol of imperialist aggression" that must be closed.

Protesters burned US and Israeli flags. Several people were injured by rocks and tear gas, the correspondent said.

There was no immediate comment from security forces.

Protesters chanted slogans against President Trump and a group of demonstrators set alight an effigy of the US president, whose decision has upended decades of American diplomacy and an international consensus to leave the status of Jerusalem to be resolved in negotiations.

The demonstrators included members of Palestinian parties as well as Lebanese Islamists and leftists.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon, including those who fled or were expelled from their homes after Israel's founding, as well as their descendants.



Lebanese security forces fire tear gas to disperse protestors as a fire burns in a dumpster during a demonstration outside the US embassy in Awkar, on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital Beirut (AFP)

Israel occupied southern Lebanon for 22 years before withdrawing in 2000. The two countries remain technically at war.

In 2006, Israel fought a devastating war against Hezbollah in Lebanon that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 120 Israelis, most of them soldiers.

Hezbollah on Thursday said it backed calls for a new Palestinian uprising against Israel in response to the US decision.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also called for a protest against the decision in the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut on Monday.

At a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers on Saturday, Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil called for preemptive measures against the US to prevent it moving its embassy

"Pre-emptive measures [must be] taken against the decision ... beginning with diplomatic measures, then political, then economic and financial sanctions," Bassil said at the meeting in Cairo.