Palestinian protesters, some burning tyres and throwing stones, clashed Friday in Jerusalem, Gaza and on the West Bank with Israeli security forces who used live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators.
The tense scuffles and more violent confrontations took place following the first Friday afternoon Islamic prayers since U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, angering Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims around the world.
Medics in both the West Bank city of Hebron and in Gaza reported uses of live ammunition by Israeli forces. Dozens of Palestinians were reported injured in the clashes, most due to rubber bullets and gas inhalation.
Israeli security forces repeatedly broke up attempts by Palestinians to stage demonstrations against Trump, some using placards with his image, near the Old City of Jerusalem.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said several hundred police officers had reinforced the Jerusalem area, with an emphasis on the Old City.
There are no age restrictions on Muslims wishing to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque.
Trump’s announcement Wednesday marked a major shift in U.S. policy which observers said would inflame regional tensions.
Israel risked further escalating the crisis with an announcement Friday on settlements.
“Following the historic declaration by Trump, I plan to strengthen construction in Jerusalem in additional neighbourhoods,” Israeli Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant was quoted by Maariv newspaper as saying.
He proposed a plan to build 14,000 new housing units, including 6,000 in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.
No fewer than 80 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with the Israeli army Thursday in the West Bank and Gaza.
Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Islamist militant movement Hamas based in Gaza, issued a call for a renewed Palestinian uprising to start Friday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ secular Fatah party was also sharply critical of Trump’s decision.
Jibril Rajoub, a senior Fatah official, warned in an interview with al-Arabiya television that the leadership would refuse to meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence later this month.
The BBC reported that the US warned the Palestinians against such a move.
Israel captured the eastern half of Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and later annexed the territory in a move that was not internationally recognized.
Palestinians hope for East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.
The city, especially the Old City, is home to sites holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Protests against Trump’s decision have also taken place around the world.
Hundreds of protesters took part in a government-organized demonstration in the Iranian capital Tehran while similar numbers of Palestinians and Lebanese demonstrated in Beirut and at refugee camps across Lebanon.
Protesters in Cairo chanted “Jerusalem is Arab” and called for “Arab unity against the Zionist attack.”