JERUSALEM — Four Palestinians were killed Friday during violent clashes with Israeli security forces, marking the bloodiest day of demonstrations since President Trump sparked outrage across much of the Middle East by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
Two demonstrators were shot dead in clashes along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which identified one as a disabled 29-year-old who had previously lost his legs. The Israeli military said it had fired “selectively towards main instigators.”
Two others were killed during confrontations in the occupied West Bank. One had stabbed an Israeli officer, according to Israeli police.
Trump’s announcement last week that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move the U.S. Embassy to the city from Tel Aviv has triggered regular outbursts of violence over the past week. The decision has been followed by the most sustained period of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel since the devastating 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the coastal enclave.
Thousands filled the streets of Gaza for large demonstrations after Friday prayers, where leaders of the main militant factions urged residents to keep alive their intifada, or uprising, against Israel. “We are heading to Jerusalem,” they chanted, waving Palestinian flags.
After the demonstrations, many headed to the border fence, with some young men loading donkey carts with tires to burn. Israeli forces used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to keep protesters away from the fence.
The Israeli army said about 3,500 people had participated in the clashes along the Gaza border. About 2,500 Palestinian “rioters” demonstrated in the West Bank, throwing rocks and firebombs and burning tires, the army added. There, Palestinian factions had called for another “day of rage” to protest Trump’s announcement on the status of Jerusalem.
In Ramallah, a man stabbed an Israeli police officer twice and was shot, police said. A video circulated online showed the young man backing away before officers opened fire. Soldiers and paramedics approach him, then scatter, apparently having spotted what appeared to be a suicide belt. Police said they were investigating whether the device was real.
Another Palestinian died of injuries sustained in clashes near Jerusalem, the Associated Press reported.
Jerusalem is holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews and is at the heart of the decades old-conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The U.S. declaration was considered by Palestinians as a denial of their claims to a section of the city. The United Nations considers the Israeli annexation of the eastern half of the city as illegal.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that the United States can no longer be considered an honest broker in the peace process and is refusing to meet Vice President Pence when Pence visits the region this month. Christian and Muslim leaders also have said they will not meet Pence.
Balousha reported from Gaza.