Two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli troops on Friday during protests in Gaza against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a health official said.
Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said a 24-year-old and a 29-year-old were killed by live fire in clashes along the border with Israel. Another 45 Palestinians were wounded, he said, half of them shot with live ammunition and the rest with rubber bullets. Others were overcome by tear gas.
A UN General Assembly resolution passed on Thursday, rejecting Trump’s December 6 Jerusalem declaration, did little to calm Palestinian anger over his reversal of decades-old US policy on the contested holy city.
Instead, thousands of Palestinian protesters, many of them throwing rocks, confronted Israeli security forces along the Gaza border fence, in all of occupied West Bank’s seven cities and in East Jerusalem.
In Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, smoke from burning tires billowed in the street, just two days before Christmas celebrations.
In a statement, the Israeli military said some 2,000 Palestinians had faced off against the troops at the Gaza border fence. It said the crowd threw stones and rolled burning tires at soldiers, who responded with “riot dispersal” measures and “fired live rounds selectively towards main instigators”.
Palestinian health officials said at least one Palestinian suffered a live bullet wound in the West Bank and some 30 protesters were hit by rubber bullets. The military, putting the number of demonstrators at about 1,700 and the injured at six, said troops faced firebombs, rocks and burning tires.
Protests have been held daily since Trump’s announcement. On Thursday, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution calling for the United States to drop recognition of Jerusalem, a city revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians, as Israel’s capital.
Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.
Most countries regard the status of Jerusalem as a matter to be settled in an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, although that process is now stalled.
Nine countries voted against the UN resolution and 35 abstained. Twenty-one countries did not cast a vote.
Friday’s deaths in Gaza raised to 10 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire since December 6, Palestinian health officials said. Dozens of protesters have been wounded.
Amnesty International on Friday called on Israeli authorities to stop using “excessive force”.
“The fact that live ammunition has been used during protests in Gaza and the West Bank is particularly shocking,” it said.
In the run-up to the UN vote, Trump threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that supported the resolution. His warning appeared to have some impact, with more countries abstaining and rejecting the document than usually associated with Palestinian-related resolutions.
But most of the European Union, Israel’s biggest trading partner, and countries such as Greece, Cyprus and India, with which Netanyahu has pursued closer relations and economic ties, backed the resolution.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a visit to Paris urged France and Europe to play a stronger role in peace efforts, insisting he'll no longer accept any US plans for Mideast peace because of the Trump's position on Jerusalem.
The US is "no longer an honest mediator in the peace process,” he added after meeting President Emmanuel Macron.