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Palestinians rally in protest of U.S. Jerusalem decision
Last Updated: 2017-12-08 08:08 | Xinhua
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Palestinian protestors in the West Bank clashed with Israeli soldiers on Thursday just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his country recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Clashes also erupted on the southern border with the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian residents who approached the fence with Israel were met with riot dispersals.

Israeli media reported dozens of Palestinians injured in those clashes.

A day before the weekly Muslim prayers on Friday, tensions are running high.

Israeli Channel 10 news said Thursday was just a "preview" for tomorrow, calling Friday "the big test."

The Israeli military announced it would be sending a number of battalions to the West Bank in order to increase the army presence in the area as part of "the readiness to possible developments."

The Israeli police was also expected to beef up its presence in the city, according to media reports.

Jerusalem's Old City, home to holy sites of Jews, Muslims and Christians, is expected to be the focal point of demonstrations.

Around 40 percent of the city's population are Palestinian residents without full rights under Israeli law.

In an interview with Xinhua, Raghad, a 21-year-old Palestinian girl who was one of the leaders in the protest in front of the Damascus Gate of the Old City, said Jerusalem belongs to Palestine and Palestinians would never accept this recognition.

Nardeen Mohammad, another young Palestinian activist who took part in the protests, also expressed his fury at Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"This is considered a defiance of all international laws that recognize Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories are under occupation. Making changes to it is considered a war crime," he said.

Speaking at a foreign ministry conference on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump, saying "it's about time" the U.S. embassy and others move to Jerusalem.

Israel is "already in contacts with other countries that will declare similar recognition," he added.

After his statement on Wednesday, Trump signed a waiver deferring the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem for another six months. The actual relocation is only planned in the coming years.

In response to his statement, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader in Gaza, called earlier on Thursday for a renewed armed uprising against Israel.

"Tomorrow will be a day of public anger and the launching of an uprising under the name of Intifada of Jerusalem Freedom," said Haniyeh.

Hamas is a militant organization responsible for many attacks which have killed hundreds of Israelis in recent years.

Meanwhile, there is a large consensus within Israel, both on the left and right sections of the political landscape, on the status of Jerusalem as the country's capital.

Yair Lapid, leader of Israel's opposition Yesh Atid Party, also endorsed Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in a rare speech supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

"Policies should not be dictated by threats and intimidation. If violence is the only argument against moving the embassy to Jerusalem, then it only proves it is the right thing to do," he said.

Palestinians, however, see East Jerusalem as the future capital of their independent state. Trump's announcement is perceived as a major setback for their cause.

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council is expected to hold a discussion on the U.S. Jerusalem decision. This will largely be a symbolic move, as the U.S. is able to veto any resolution on the table.

According to several existing UN resolutions, the status of Jerusalem is to be determined by both Israelis and Palestinians through negotiations.

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