LIVE: Two dead, hundreds injured as 'day of rage' protests erupt across Palestine

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Last update: 
June 19 Jun 2018 10:48 UTC

After 70 years, Donald Trump did on Wednesday what no previous US president has done – recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The announcement has sparked anger and protest across the Middle East while being welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and supporters of Israel.

Leaders in Gaza and the West Bank have called for a strong response, with protests in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli soldiers were deployed in anticipation of unrest.

We’ll be bringing you live updates here.

Feel free to leave comments and news tips below; we’re also on Twitter @MiddleEastEye and Facebook.

Photo: Israeli soldiers continue to fire rubber bullets and tear gas on Palestinian protesters in Gaza today (MEE/Hind Khoudary)

Overnight round-up

Good night from Texas.

Here's a quick round-up of all the night's events as tensions intensified:

► Second Palestinian killed, this time from Gaza

► Israel's military fires tear gas in Aida refugee camp following clashes

► Hundreds of Muslims attended Friday prayers in front of the White House to protest

► King Abdullah salutes Jordanians over Jerusalem protests

► Fashion supermodel Bella Hadid joins Palestinian protests in UK

For analysis check out:

► Suraj Sharma's piece on why Iraqi Kurds have been silent on Trump's Jerusalem move.

► Noura Erakat on how Trump has ended the US double-speak on Middle East 'Peace'.

► Arwa Ibrahim on whether the US has always been an 'honest' broker. 

Tomorrow morning, stay tuned for continuous updates from our correspondents back in London.

Fashion supermodel Bella Hadid joins Palestinian protests in UK

Bella Hadid, a fashion supermodel, reportedly travelled from a fashion show to join Palestinian protests in front of the US embassy in London.


King Abdullah salutes Jordanians over Jerusalem protests

Translation: Jordanians have always been the pulse of this (Arab) nation. The immense feelings they expressed today for Jerusalem, our number one cause, and the unparalleled unity and fraternity, reflect the resilience and dignity of our people. God bless Jordan and its people, as a shield for our nation and its children.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Amman on Friday to condemn US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Hundreds of Muslims protest Trump's embassy move in front of White House

Hundreds of Muslims attended Friday prayers in front of the White House to protest President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Responding to the call of American Muslim organizations, worshippers laid out their prayer mats at a park in front of the president's residence.

Wearing traditional Palestinian keffiyeh scarves or the colors of the Palestinian flag, protesters also held placards denouncing Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Muslim worshippers protest in front of the White Housefollowing President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital (AFP)

"Trump does not own a piece of soil of Jerusalem and Palestine. He owns the Trump Tower. He can give it away to the Israelis," Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told AFP. 

The president is "empowering Christian religious extremism in the US," he added.

Source: AFP

Israel's military fires tear gas in Aida refugee camp following clashes

Our MEE contributor Yumna Patel just filed this report from Bethlehem.

BETHLEHEM - At 7pm, a number of teenagers from the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem approached an unmanned watchtower along Israel’s separation wall, which wraps around Aida on two sides - and began lighting tires, wood and trash on fire. The fire reached almost to the top of the 9-metre tower.

Fifteen minutes later, two Israeli jeeps left the military base located on the eastern end of the camp and headed towards the engulfed tower. The teenagers saw the jeeps approach and began hurling rocks, prompting clashes to break out. The jeeps cornered the teenagers from the main road along the wall and into the alleyways of the camp, and began shooting gas to the middle of the camp.

“In 10 seconds, the jeeps fired around 50 or 60 rounds of tear gas,” Adham, a resident of the camp and eyewitness to the events, told MEE.

The jeeps then retreated back to the military base, refilled their supply of tear gas, and returned to the camp to shoot more gas canisters.

Teenagers from the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem approach an unmanned watchtower along Israel’s separation wall and began lighting tires, wood, trash on fire (MEE/Akram al-Wa'ra)

Adham estimated that more than 300 rounds of tear gas were fired into the camp over the course of an hour.

“This tear-gas isn’t normal. Something is different. It is stronger than usual, it stayed in the air for more than 2 hours,” Adham said.

He estimated that at least 12 people were taken to hospital, while several others were treated inside their homes.

Adham thinks the situation in the camp and in Palestine is going to stay like this for a while as a result of Trump’s announcement.

The events in Aida tonight came a month after Commissioner General for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Pierre Krähenbühl delivered a speech saying that “health experts suggests residents of Bethlehem’s Aida camp are exposed to more tear gas than any other population surveyed globally.”

Emergency services arrived to take injured Palestinians from tear gas to the hospital (MEE/Akram al-Wa'ra)

The Palestinian Red Crescent said they treated 20 people inside their homes in the camp, while 5 were evacuated to the hospital. The ages of those treated ranged from young children to the elderly. 

Yumna Patel is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Bethlehem. You can follow her on Twitter here: @yumna_patel

Akram Al-Wa'ra is a freelance videographer based in Bethlehem. You can follow him on Twitter here: @akramalwaara



Gaza rocket hits Israeli town: army

A rocket fired from the Palestinian Gaza Strip enclave hit the southern Israel town of Sderot on Friday night, the Israeli army said, but refused to comment on possible casualties.

It was Friday's third rocket attack and the second night of rocket fire since US President Donald Trump's statement on Wednesday recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Source: AFP

Second Palestinian killed: Gaza health ministry

Gaza's health ministry says that a person died after Israeli launched strikes in retaliation to rocket fire, bringing the death total to two in both the West Bank and Gaza.

Israeli air strike wounds 10 in Gaza: Palestinian security

Israel aircraft attacked Hamas military facilities in the Gaza Strip on Friday night in response to earlier rocket attacks, the Israeli army said.

The health ministry in Gaza said that 10 people were wounded, suffering what it described as light to moderate injuries.

Israel's military said in a tweet that they targeted a "Hamas training ground" and "ammunition warehouse".



Evening round-up

Good evening from London,

Here's a quick round-up of all the day's events as tensions intensified throughout the day:

► Palestinians were forced to evacuate their homes in the Aida refugee camp after volleys of tear gas was fired by Israeli soldiers 

► The US stood alone as the world condemned America for its actions at the UN Security Council session on Jerusalem 

►300 Palestinians were reported injured across West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem during 'day of rage'

►One Palestinian man was killed in the Southern Gaza town of Khan Younis after being injured with an Israeli rubber bullet 

► Tens of thousands across the globe came out against Trump's Jerusalem decision. 

For analysis check out:

► Suraj Sharma's piece on why Iraqi Kurds have been silent on Trump's Jerusalem move.

► Noura Erakat on how Trump has ended the US double-speak on Middle East 'Peace'.

► Arwa Ibrahim on whether the US has always been an 'honest' broker. 

Until next time, stay tuned for continuous updates from our correspondents and MEE's US team. 





Palestinians evacuate homes after tear gas fired into refugee camp in Bethlehem

Major clashes have begun in the Aida refugee camp between Palestinian protestors and Israeli soldiers.

MEE correspondent Yumna Patel witnessed Israeli soldiers firing volleys of tear gas canisters at protestors. 

"Some people are evacuating their homes after tear gas managed to get inside their homes," said Patel 

"Apparently some people had started to roll burning tires at the military tower, so the jeep came out and shot tear gas into the camp, at homes,"

She added: "Due to the cold and windy weather, the tear-gas is having a huge impact on Palestinians with many choking from the gas and desperately seeking medical attention."

Major clashes in Qalqilya between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers

We're live in London and Washington as protests continue

MEE is live in London and Washington where hundreds continue today's protests against US President Donald Trump recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital. 

You can view the protests live on our Facebook page. Here are the links below:


TLDR: UN Security Council session round-up

Two hours later, the international community stands united against America's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Here's a quick breakdown of what went down. We did the listening so you don't have to:

►US ambassador Nikki Haley described the embassy move and recognition as a "common sense move".

►Every country in the UN Security Council session except Israel condemned the move and cited fears it will exacerbate tensions in the Middle East.

►Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour called 'Jerusalem the red-line' for his people. 

►Israel held up an "ancient coin" to justify its claim to Jerusalem as the capital. 

Israel holds up 'ancient coin' at UN to justify claim to Jerusalem

Danny Danon, Israel's UN ambassador described the US recognition of Jerusalem as its as a "milestone" for Tel Aviv.

Holding up an "ancient coin", Danon used his remarks to highlight the cultural significance Jerusalem has to Jews and to justify its claim that the city is its capital. He used his remarks to call on other countries to also move its embassies to Jerusalem. 

"No UN vote can alter this historical fact. This council had the audacity or the chutzpah (to say) that Israel's presence on the Western wall has no legal validity and that it holds a flagrant violation of international law," said Danon. 

"This organisation is responsible for one historical wrong after the other. That is why Trump's decision was right.

The American announcement should be a reality check to the Palestinians and to the world."

Danon holds up an 'ancient coin' to justify its claim to Jerusalem as its capital (UN)

Palestine: 'Jerusalem is the red-line for Palestinians'

Riyad Mansour, who is Palestine's UN ambassador, began his remarks by thanking in Arabic, the Palestinians who demonstrated and "resisted" America's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

In Arabic, Mansour said: "From this podium, I would like to commend our Palestinian people who defended Jerusalem today in its neighbourhoods and places of worships. I want to commend the people on the gates, in the camps, all over the world.

He added: "Our rights and resolutions. I thank those who call for the US administration to stop it's illegal and provocative decision which has no meaning except pleasing the occupying power of Israel."

Mansour criticised Israel's "bullying of world leaders" and condemned Tel-Aviv's attempts to "destroy the two-state solution" by changing Jerusalem's "demography and geography."

"We are grateful for the strong principled expressed by states and organisations worldwide...Mr President the Israel-Palestinian conflict continues to pose a threat to international peace and security is no question.

Jerusalem's significance to the Palestinians and to the Muslim people is no question...Jerusalem is the red-line for Palestinians and there can be no just solution if there is no just solution to Jerusalem.

Israel has never been recognised as a sovereign over Jerusalem. Its status remains unresolved and continues to be a final status discussion."

Russia calls on negotiations to re-commence through Egypt

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia's permanent representative to the UN, said it would continue to provide "energetic" support to both Israelis and Palestinians. 

He used his address to call upon a peace process to be facilitated via Egypt and called on America to explain why it made its decision and under what grounds. 

Nebenzya said: "Particular attention should be given to the freedom of access to the holy places of Jerusalem."

He added: "Fair and reliable settlement based on the well-known basis of international law." 

Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar refuses to meet Mike Pence

Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand-Sheikh of Al-Azhar, has made it clear that he "refuses" to meet with US Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the Middle East in coming days.

Tayeb who was appointed under former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said: "no meetings should take place with those who create rigged history."

Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb leaves Al Rawdah mosque on Friday (Reuters)

China fears US move will 'exacerbate tensions' in Middle East

China's UN representative reaffirmed its support for the two-state solution and said that its position will not change. 

It's representative cited fears of this issue being hijacked by groups in the Middle East and cited concerns it will create instability. 

The representative used his speech to also propose China's three possible solutions to support the two-state solution:

1) Advancing processes of the political settlement based on two-state solution.

2) Cooperative and coordinated security.

3) Promoting peace through development.

US embassy move was a 'common sense', says Haley

US ambassador Nikki Haley described Trump's decision to move the embassy as "common sense" and that "change is hard."

"For nearly 70 years, Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel. The American people are less patient," Haley told the UN session.

"In 1995 the US Congress voted that Jerusalem should be recognised as the capital of Israel and that the embassy should be moved."

She also used her statement to criticise the UN where she described it as the "foremost centre of hostility to Israel."

Haley was confident that America continued to have the confidence of both sides and cited past agreements where the White House lawn was the venue for past agreements between both sides. 

She added: 

1) America has not taken a position on the boundaries or borders of Jerusalem.

2) Specific dimensions of Jerusalem still to be decided via negotiations. 

3) The US does not advocate changes to Temple mount or Haram al-sharif

4)  The US not predetermining final status issues.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks with Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Riyad H. Mansour during a United Nations Security Council meeting (AFP)

Italy's position 'remains unchanged' and will keep its embassy in Tel Aviv

Italy's position on Jerusalem "remains unchanged" and reiterated its support for a two-state solution achieved via a peace process that involves the Israelis and Palestinians.

"It will maintain its embassy to Tel Aviv and very concerned for unrest in the region," said Sebastiano Cardi, Italy's UN permanent ambassador. 

Bolivia: Trump's decision 'further exacerbates turmoil in the region'

Sacha Llorenty, Bolivia's UN ambassador, described Trump's move as a "move against international law" and that "the decision further exacerbates turmoil in the Middle East."

"This decision will not only impact Israelis and Palestinians but the whole will be exploited by radicals," said Llorenty. 

He added: "It's necessary to recall that though there are two parties they are not playing on a level field. One, Israel is the occupying force, and two, Palestine is the occupied."

Gaza rocket intercepted by Israel

Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.

Rocket sirens were sounded on Friday night in southern Israel and communities near the Gaza Strip, reported Haaretz.

The cities Ashkelon and Sderot were included in the alert, as well as a number of communities around the Gaza enclave.

France: Jerusalem issue risks morphing into a 'religious conflict'

Francois Delattre, France's UN ambassador said that Paris "regrets" America's decision to move its embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem.

"France recognises no sovereignty over Jerusalem not recognise the annexation of the city," said Delattre. 

He added: "It is incumbent to reaffirm our collective agreement to international law especially on a situation like Jerusalem. Without an agreement on Jerusalem, there can be no peace agreement."

"Given its gravity and central position in the international is critical that this does not give the pretext for no radical movement and morphe into an insurmountable religious conflict."

Journalists under fire in West Bank and Gaza Strip

Three Palestinian journalists were injured on Friday while covering the anti-Trump protests in the Gaza Strip and West Bank cities.

In Ramallah, the Israeli army shot Ali Dar Ali, the correspondent of Palestine TV, near the settlement of Beit El.

Mahmoud Fawzi, a photographer for Ramsat production company, was injured in the head while covering confrontations in Qalqilya, north of the West Bank. 

An Anadolu Agency photographer, Mustafa Hassouneh, was injured after an Israeli tear gas canister hit his shoulder while he was documenting the clashes that occurred in the buffer zone in Jabalia, in the Gaza strip.

Meanwhile, footage from Damascus Gate in Jerusalem showed the Israeli forces pushing journalists away from the Old City where a protest started after the Friday prayer in Al-Aqsa mosque.

Translation: Mahmoud Fawzi, a photographer for Ramsat, injured in the head by the Israeli occupation while covering the confrontations in Kafr Qaddum in Qalqilya.

UK called on 'all parties for calm' at the UN

Matthew Rycroft, the UK's ambassador to the UN reiterated its disagreement with America's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"We reiterate the fundamental necessity of maintaining the status-quo of the Temple Mount and Haram al-Sharif," Rycroft told the UN meeting.

"We welcome the UN Secretary General's intent to return to meaningful negotiations and for a lasting peace."

Egypt 'denounced' Trump's decision to call Jerusalem Israel's capital

Egypt's UN ambassador Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta describes America's decision to move the US embassy as "dangerous" and goes against the "framework of international legitimacy."

He said that Egypt "denounced the US decision to Jerusalem as Israel's capital" and that there would "grave negative impact on the peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis."

Aboulatta also said that Trump's decision was a "violation of international legitimacy and thus has no impact on the legal status of the city of Jerusalem."

Sweden lists three reasons why US move to recognise Jerusalem 'was bad'

Olof Skoog who is Sweden's UN ambassador was one of many countries who called for the meeting. 

Skoog reiterated Sweden's opposition to Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and expresses reasons why:

1) Recognition of Jerusalem contradicts international law and that the city is a final status topic. 

2) Jerusalem being called Israel's capital has fuelled tension in a volatile and already turbulent region.

3) Risks pre-judging final status negotiations on whether Jerusalem will be the capital city of two states for two people. 

WATCH: Live stream of UN Security Council briefing on Jerusalem

UN Security Council meeting on Jerusalem has begun

Nickolay E Mladenov who is the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process opens the session and gives a summary of events in Jerusalem:

"Jerusalem is one of the complex and captivating cities in the world.

"Only through constructive dialogue can we achieve peace. Mr President today we stand at a critical issue of this longstanding conflict...It is up to all of us in the international community to urgently advance a just solution." 

Mladenov also reiterates that the UN will continue to pursue a two-state solution and a split Jerusalem as part of final status negotiations. 

Where Palestine protests have taken place

The number of protests against Donald Trump's decision on Jerusalem has widened during the past 24 hours. We've produced this graphic to highlight some of the more major ones at the current time. Bear in mind that the situation is fast-moving and that demonstrations are liable to erupt or disperse at short notice.