The leader of the militant group Hamas called on Palestinians to launch an intifada, the Arabic word for uprising, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“The American decision is an aggression on our people and a war on our sanctuaries,” Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech, according to an Associated Press report. He told his supporters “to be ready for any orders.”
“We want the uprising to last and continue to let Trump and the occupation regret this decision,” Haniyeh said.
Palestinian protesters appeared to heed Haniyeh’s call, clashing with Israeli troops in protests that broke out Thursday, the AP reported. In Gaza, protesters burned posters of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Israeli and American flags. In the West Bank, protesters lit tire fires and threw stones at riot gear-clad troops. In Bethlehem, troops used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesting crowds.
Trump’s announcement Wednesday that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and begin the process of moving its embassy there marked a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy, which had previously avoided taking a side on issues of sovereignty regarding Jerusalem. Palestinians would almost certainly seek to claim East Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel in 1967, as its capital in any two-state peace agreement.
Trump was emphatic Wednesday that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality” because the city is the seat of much of the Israeli government, including its legislature and supreme court. He said that the announcement did not represent a lessening U.S. interest in a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal.
Still, the decision was met with criticism and concern across the globe as world leaders worried that Trump’s move could erode the chances of a peace deal and spark fresh violence in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had long sought U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as his nation’s capital, praised his U.S. counterpart and called Wednesday a historic day.
But Palestinian leaders warned that the step would hinder the peace process.
“He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims [and] hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel,” Manuel Hassassian, Palestine’s envoy to the United Kingdom, told BBC radio in an interview Wednesday ahead of Trump’s announcement.