Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed two Palestinian gunmen on Saturday after rockets were fired from the enclave, in violence that erupted over President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Gaza militants launched at least three rockets towards Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip – which is controlled by the Islamist group Hamas – after dark on Friday. The day had been declared a “day of rage” by Palestinian factions protesting against Trump’s announcement on Wednesday.
“IAF (Israeli Air Force) aircraft targeted four facilities belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the Gaza Strip: two weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse, a military compound,” the Israeli military said in a statement.
A Hamas source confirmed the two men killed in the pre-dawn air strikes belonged to the group, which has urged Palestinians to keep up the confrontation with Israeli forces.
Palestinian protests on Saturday were far less intense on than on previous days.
About 60 Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers across the Gaza-Israel border and the health ministry said one bystander was wounded by Israeli gunfire.
In the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Palestinians set fire to tyres and threw stones at Israeli troops, who used tear gas. In East Jerusalem about 60 people demonstrated near the walled Old City, where paramilitary border police and officers on horseback tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas.
On Friday, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in protest and two Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza border. Scores more were wounded there and in the West Bank. Across the Arab and Muslim worlds, thousands more protesters had gathered to express solidarity.
Trump’s reversal of decades of U.S. policy has infuriated the Arab world and upset Western allies, who say the move is a blow to peace efforts and risks sparking more violence in the region.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday the United States could no longer broker peace talks.
Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is leading efforts to restart the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks, efforts that so far have shown little progress.
“A GIFT TO RADICALISM”
A senior United Arab Emirates (UAE) official said on Saturday that Trump’s move was a boon to radicals.
“These issues are a gift to radicalism. Radicals and extremists will use that to fan the language of hate,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said at the Manama Dialogue security conference in Bahrain.
The status of Jerusalem has been one of the biggest obstacles to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians for generations.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital. Palestinians want the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future independent state of their own.
Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East War, to be occupied territory. It includes the Old City, home to sites considered holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians alike.
For decades, Washington, like most of the rest of the international community, held back from recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying its status should be determined as part of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Trump also said on Wednesday he was starting the process of moving the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The Trump administration argues that the peace process has become moribund, and outdated policies need to be jettisoned for the sides in the conflict to make progress.