US missions across the Middle East are braced for a second day of violent protests over Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after widespread clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces on Thursday.
American diplomatic staff and families are operating under tight security restrictions ordered by the state department as fears mounted that spreading protests could target US interests in the region after Friday prayers.
Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank have clashed with Palestinians protesting against the US declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Hundreds of angry demonstrators in Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron threw stones at Israeli forces and set barricade alight; however, Israeli forces responded by firing tear gas and plastic-coated.
Donald Trump’s announcement was hailed by Israel but condemned across the Arab and Islamic world, most European countries as well, as they claimed the move goes contrary to decades of US policy of neutrality towards Jerusalem’s status.
Israel deployed extra security forces in anticipation of more clashes in Jerusalem and West Bank cities, the increased security measures became extremely necessary as Hezbollah’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, echoed calls made by Hamas earlier in the day for support for a new Palestinian intifada.
In the Gaza Strip, dozens of protesters gathered near the border fence with Israel and clashed with Israeli troops. Two missiles reportedly launched against Israel later in the day both detonated within the coastal enclave.
Protests took place across the region: in Jordan, demonstrators near the US embassy in Amman torched the US flag and pictures of Trump. In Tunisia, thousands of people joined peaceful protests in Tunis and several other cities, and labour unions called for even bigger demonstrations after Friday prayers.
The UN Security Council has called a meeting for Friday to discuss Trump’s decision, condemnation of which continues to mount across the Middle East and internationally.
Eight countries on the 15-member council requested the meeting, including the UK, Italy and France, amid claims from Palestine and Turkey that the recognition was in breach of international law and UN resolutions.
The EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the bloc had a united position that Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state. France said it rejected the “unilateral” US decision, while the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, both described Trump’s announcement as “unhelpful”.