Israeli military opens fire as protests erupt across Palestinian territories

The protests follow the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital

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Palestinians take part in a protest against US President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, 06-12-2017. Image: Wissam Nassar/DPA/PA Images

17:40 7 Dec 2017 Newstalk 5 days ago

At least 31 people have reportedly been wounded by Israeli army gunfire as protests against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital erupt across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Around 11 protesters were hit by live fire while over 20 others were hit by rubber bullets.

Protesters gathered near the border fence with Israel had thrown rocks at soldiers on the other side.

Reporters on the ground have described the situation as “extremely volatile” – while the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas calling for a third intifada – the Arab term for uprising.

Hamas said President Trump’s decision "opened the gates of hell" on US interests in the Middle East.

The Israeli military has said that rockets were fired at various locations near the Gaza strip but did not cross into Israeli territory.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah and other delegates have arrived in Gaza to meet with Hamas – worried that its response to the move could jeopardise reconciliation efforts.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was rallying international opposition to what he called an "unacceptable crime," adding there has been a "positive response" to his overtures.

Palestinians burn pictures of US President Donald Trump, 07-12-2017. Image: Abed Rahim Khatib/SIPA USA/PA Images

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss how to respond to the move.

Eight of the council's 15 members called for the meeting. 

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the status of Jerusalem could only be settled through direct talks.

"I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians," he said.

"I will do everything in my power to support the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to meaningful negotiations."

Eternal capital

President Trump's move backs Israel’s claim over the entire city and ends decades of US policy stipulating that the city's status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians.

Israel considers the whole of the city as its "eternal, undivided capital" - but East Jerusalem is considered illegally occupied under international law.

The country captured it in 1967 and annexed it - but that move was not recognised internationally.

Palestinians view the Eastern part of the city as their own capital.

The city is home to sites that are holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians.

International condemnation

The move has been widely condemned by US allies with leaders from around the world warning it could increase tensions in the region and damage the Middle East peace process.

Analysts have warned it risks scuppering the fledgling Arab-Israeli peace agreement brokered by Mr Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

In Ireland, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney said the announcement was “premature and ill-advised” adding that it will be “unhelpful to efforts to reach a resolution of the Middle East Peace Process - something which is very urgently needed."

In a rare public statement, Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu said "God is weeping over President Donald Trump's inflammatory and discriminatory" decision and that it was duty of the world "to tell Mr Trump he is wrong."

Saudi Arabia slammed the move as "irresponsible" and warned there will be violence - and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Mr Trump had put the Middle East into a "ring of fire."

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the US had "pulled the pin on a bomb ready to blow in the region."

Iran warned it would "provoke Muslims" and lead to an "increase in radical, angry and violent behaviour."

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she disagreed with the move and said the status of Jerusalem "should be determined in a negotiated settlement" between both sides, adding it "should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states."

The Kremlin said Mr Trump's decision was causing a split in the international community, while France's Emmanuel Macron described it as "regrettable."

Egypt, which was the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, also rejected the US President's declaration, while Jordan dismissed it as "legally null" because it consolidated Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians see as the capital of any future state.

Worldwide caution

The decision has been largely welcomed in Israel, which has long considered Jerusalem to be its capital, after it annexed the Old City in 1967.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised America's "courageous and just decision" and said it was a "historic day."

Following the decision, American government personnel have been warned to avoid the Old City and the West Bank until further notice.

An updated "Worldwide Caution" has also been issued to US citizens abroad, advising them to "be alert to the possibility of political unrest, violence, demonstrations, and criminal activities."

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