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Gaza and Sderot are extras in the government’s horror show

Even the members of Netanyahu’s government acknowledge that what Israel is doing in Gaza is folly, yet there is no one to stop it. 

By Avi Dabush

Let’s start with a quiz. Who said the following: “We are marching a march of foolishness when it comes to Gaza. The government has no policy or strategic decision-making. Each day moves from combat to crisis — humanitarian or military — and sometimes both together.”

The answer, you see, is none other than senior minister and member of the security cabinet Yisrael Katz. His solution to Gaza’s problems, by the way, is a port and a comprehensive peace agreement. Who else supports building a port in Gaza? Minister of Education Naftali Bennett.

Herein lies the essence of the tragedy: this is not a matter of intense disagreement between right and left, only a march of folly led by Netanyahu and his government. There will be those who say this was a matter of cynical policy and those who will speak of leadership without a long-term vision. The results are essentially the same.

I recently moved to Sderot from nearby Sha’ar HaNegev. Perfect timing: this week saw four rocket alarms in Sderot, a few more in Eshkol and Shaar Hanegev, and several interceptions by the Iron Dome. Some rockets fell inside the city. Trump’s declaration restarted the back and forth, familiar to us all, between the IDF and Hamas. Days of Rage, Gazans wounded and killed, Qassam rockets and tunnels in the fields of Kibbutz Nirim.

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In addition to all of this is the construction of the underground barrier along the border with Gaza. Dozens of feet of cement deep, tens of miles long, which will cost Israelis at least four billion shekels. It would have probably been cheaper to pay for a personal security guard for each family in the western Negev for the next decade.

That being said, this is the time to ask the familiar question — the 17-year-old question, born when the first Qassam rocket fell on Sderot in April 2001: what is the objective? Where are our leaders taking us? Would it not be cheaper to put forward the “primitive” solution of a peace agreement?

Experience shows that these...

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Bibi says Iran will soon have 100 nuclear bombs. Well, where are they?

Netanyahu is repeating the claim that, following the nuclear deal, Iran will soon amass an arsenal of a hundred bombs. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

By Shemuel Meir

Speaking at the Jerusalem Post’s Diplomatic Conference on December 6th, 2017, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that, within a decade, Iran stands to emerge from the nuclear deal with not one atomic bomb but “a nuclear arsenal of 100 bombs and more.” He called upon the ambassadors present to report this to their respective foreign offices and have their countries help the U.S. President fix the “flawed” Iran nuclear deal right away.

Netanyahu had elaborated on his “one hundred atomic bombs” thesis during his London talk at the Chatham House a month earlier. According to him, Iran would do well to honor the deal rather than risk its violation. If the Islamic Republic walked out on the agreement now, it might end up having one bomb, but if it were to silently bide its time until the agreement ran out and the restrictions were lifted, it would rack up a hundred atomic bombs “within weeks.”

Netanyahu’s is a misguided thesis, not founded in fact, and most likely the result of questionable strategic counseling. Whether it is shared by Israel’s military intelligence — responsible for the National Intelligence Estimate — is unclear. Israeli think tanks, whose job is to challenge establishment thinking and present the prime minister with reports based on facts, seem inclined to fuel and exacerbate Netanyahu’s pessimistic approach and worldview. Thus, the public debate in Israel is exposed to a vicious circle of threats and fear-mongering. The argument voiced in Israel that Iran has not changed and remains a serial violator of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) does nothing to help the debate.

In this article, we will show where Netanyahu is wrong. The nuclear deal is not a fast track to an Iranian bomb.

The Netanyahu school considers the agreement “flawed” based on its notion that Iran has managed to foist the so-called Sunset Clause on the U.S. and other global powers. The Sunset Clause is a legal metaphor implying that the restrictions on uranium stockpiles set forth in the deal (300 kilograms only as opposed to 10 tons prior to the agreement) and additional prohibitions on uranium enrichment in Iran will expire in 15 years. When this period ends, according to Netanyahu’s school of thought, Iran will spring forth and develop nuclear weapons in no time....

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Court says Palestinian poet won't be released from house arrest

Dareen Tatour, who was arrested and jailed for publishing a poem on Facebook, will remain under house arrest, preventing her from working or leading a normal life.

By Yoav Haifawi

The media calm in recent months could have fooled the casual reader into thinking that the trial of Dareen Tatour for her poetry has already ended. After all, how much can abuse can the poet face for one poem and two statuses on Facebook?

The silence is misleading. More than two years and two months after her arrest in October 2015, Tatour’s trial drags on languidly in the Nazareth court with no end in sight. On Monday, December 4, the remand judge once again rejected her request to be released from the house arrest imposed on her “until the end of legal proceedings.”

New testimony regarding “The Next Martyr”

Tatour, 34, from Reineh near Nazareth, was arrested by Israeli police on October 11th, 2015, and later indicted of incitement to violence and support of a terrorist organization, all for publishing a poem, “Resist my people, resist them”, and two Facebook statuses. The prosecution claimed that her publications at the beginning of October 2015 should be read in the context of the Palestinian “third intifada,” which was characterized by attacks by unaffiliated individuals.

Tatour replied that her publications contain no call for violence, to which she objects, and that they express legitimate protest and call for struggle against Israeli restrictions on the right of Muslims to pray in Al-Aqsa and against the crimes of the occupation and in particular the killing of innocent Palestinians. She also claimed, bringing experts to prove this claim, that the police both mistranslated and misinterpreted her poem.

Following her arrest, Tatour was jailed for three months in three different prisons. She was later released to strict house arrest, forced to wear an ankle monitor. As the authorities demanded that she be distanced from the Nazareth region, her family had to rent an apartment in Kiryat Ono, just outside Tel Aviv, to hold her there. She was forbidden from using the Internet.

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Gradually, through many appeals and legal battles, which met stiff resistance from the prosecution, the conditions of the...

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Some things should be broken, not fixed

Our reflexive response tells us to fix the problems we see in Israel, but we must do precisely the opposite. After all, the problem is not with the current government — it goes far deeper.

By Yuli Novak

On the slopes of the mountains of northern Catalonia are giant homes that date back hundreds of years. Most of them are abandoned. They remain there because someone, long ago, had enough patience and faith to build something that would not be destroyed by time, war, or the elements. It’s quite impressive — in fact, it’s inspirational.

There, on the mountains, I learned how to quarry stone with a chisel and hammer a few weeks ago. The truth is that it is both easier and more difficult than I imagined. It is physically easier and mentally harder, and demands a great deal of patience and faith.

During the week I was there, at the windy mountains, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, almost got herself fired. According to the newspapers, it was because of an English-language television interview she did. Upon watching the interview, I understood that in some sense, Hotovely is a gift to the cause. In her own strange way, she makes reality far easier to understand.

Hotovely’s interview with i24:

Hotovely, in her typical arrogance and fanaticism, stirred controversy by speaking her mind about non-Orthodox American Jews, arguing that they are not qualified to understand, let alone criticize Israeli policies because they “never send their children to fight for their country.” Hotovely went on to mention how she was prevented from speaking at the Princeton chapter of Hillel, the largest Jewish student organization in the world, and chalked the decision up to a “liberal dictatorship.” She also spoke about the Western Wall and the Israeli government’s decision to cancel a long-negotiated agreement that would have created an egalitarian prayer space at the holy site, saying that the brouhaha was simply another manipulative attempt to attack the government.

Not long after the interview ended, the prime minister picked up his phone and Hotovely apologized. The deputy foreign minister explained that she did not actually mean what she said, and that we should all just move on with our lives — that is, go back to watching the Israeli government destroy Israel’s democracy as the political opposition watches in astonishment that its democracy is being subverted.

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Roger Waters backs film on legacy of the Nakba

The Pink Floyd frontman to become the executive producer of a new film by Sarah Friedland and +972 writer Rami Younis on the tragic history of one of Palestine’s most important cities.

By Yael Marom

Pink Floyd frontman and human rights activist Roger Waters announced this week that he would be lending his support to a new documentary by +972 and Local Call writer Rami Younis and American director Sarah Friedland titled “Lyd in Exile.” Waters, who has become an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian cause, decided to donate to the project and will be listed as the film’s executive producer.

“A few days ago I received an email from Roger Waters himself, Younis says. “He saw our crowd funding campaign and said he was interested in donating a large sum to finish up production, which automatically turned him into our executive producer. He thought the film was beautiful and wanted us our project to succeed.”

“Lyd in Exile” is a Palestinian-American production, which focuses on the story of the city Lyd (“Lod” in Hebrew) in central Israel, as an example of the continuation of the Nakba since 1948. The directors chose Lyd to exemplify what has been taking place across all of historic Palestine since 1948. What was once an important city that connected Palestine to the rest of the world thanks to its airport and geographical location, has become a city of home demolitions against its Palestinian population, religious settler groups, an apartheid wall that separates between the Palestinian neighborhood and the Jewish one, and endless attempts to erase its Palestinian history.

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The filming took place over four years, during which the directors and American producer Fivel Rothberg, documented every corner of the city, while also filming in the Palestinian refugee camps where Lyd’s former residents now live. The film also provides evidence of a war crime that took place during the 1948 war, in which the Palmach strike force massacred hundreds of Palestinians in a mosque in the center of the city.

“I am ecstatic that he is supporting our project,” says Friedland. “I have great admiration for his commitment to Palestine and his leadership around...

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Following pressure, Israeli university cuts short exhibit on home demolitions

Ben Gurion University cuts short an art exhibition on home demolitions against the Negev Bedouin following pressure by the Student Association. 

By Maya Avis

If you were to enter Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva earlier this week, you should have been able to see an exhibition on how Bedouin in the Negev contend with home demolitions. But due to alleged security concerns, the exhibition was disrupted and partly cancelled.

The exhibition, entitled “Demolition Order,” organized by the Braya Gallery student group, collects paintings and photographs that reflect on “the situation created by the demolition of houses and the implications for society.”

According to the Braya Gallery, the exhibit was approved by the university, but was partially cancelled after pressure from the Student Association. Beyond the cancellation, the student group also met with attempts to censor the contents of the exhibition.

Artist and Braya Gallery Spokesperson Ahmad Abu Bader said that the group received approval to present the exhibition for three days. However, before the exhibition was even mounted, the timeframe was reduced to just two days, December 10 and 12, respectively. By the time the exhibition was set up, only one day remained: International Human Rights Day, which fell on December 10.

Abu Bader told +972 about the attempt to put up the exhibition on Sunday: “When we started working in the space we had been given, the head of security came and looked at my piece and said: ‘move this rubbish from here.’”

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“Part of the university’s approval process for exhibitions on campus is a presentation of all the work that will be shown. In the presentation, we detailed everything that would be presented,” explained Abu Bader. “Their aim was singular: to destroy our exhibition.”

“What I am opposed to is the language and approach they took with us,” he continues. “I’m not unreasonable. If I’d received a genuine reason, I’d have done what they asked. They just wanted the exhibition gone. I insisted on the presence of my piece in the exhibition.”

After the arrival of the university’s president at the scene, an emergency meeting was called and the exhibition was allowed to remain, but only for one day, and only until 4 p.m., as opposed to 7 p.m.,...

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The new 'choice' for asylum seekers: Deportation or prison

Israel finally plans to close its desert detention facility for African asylum seekers. Refugee advocates worry it could be the start of something even worse.

By Joshua Leifer

During a midnight vote on Monday, the Knesset passed a bill that will enable the government to detain asylum seekers indefinitely or deport them to an unspecified country in Africa. The law passed by a margin of 71 to 41.

The consequences of the law will stem not only from what appears in the text of the bill itself, but also what doesn’t: there is nothing in the bill that mentions deportation. Instead, on paper, the law—which amends an existing law dealing with illegal immigration to Israel—extends existing provisions that allow the state to fine businesses that employ asylum seekers and that prohibit asylum seekers from taking money out of the country. The bill also sets geographic limits on where asylum seekers can live, a measure that previously applied only to asylum seekers who had been imprisoned in the Holot detention facility. Most significantly, the bill sunsets the legal mandate of the Holot facility, which is now expected to shut down in March of 2018.

The closure of Holot is planned to coincide with the implementation of agreements—the specific terms of which remain state secrets—between Israel and Rwanda and Uganda. According to recent announcements by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, once Israel closes Holot, Israel will present asylum seekers with a stark choice: deportation to Rwanda or Uganda or indefinite detention in Israel. In a High Court of Justice hearing last Tuesday, the state notified the court that it will begin deportations in a matter of weeks.

The deportation announcement comes on the heels of another High Court ruling in August that struck down a previous plan to deport Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. In that case, the court ruled that the government could not use the threat of indefinite detention to force the asylum seekers to leave, since the agreements stipulated that the asylum seekers had to leave voluntarily, explained Attorney Anat Ben Dor of Tel Aviv University’s Refugee Rights Clinic.

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The government claims...

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Beneath the illusion of a temporary occupation lies apartheid

By claiming that its control over Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is temporary, despite lasting longer than South African Apartheid by any measure, Israel is able to justify a regime that denies one group political and civil rights while privileging another.

By Fady Khoury

The so-called temporary nature of Israel’s control over the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has for too long served as a justification for not extending them full political and civil rights.

The Oslo peace process entailed a Palestinian acceptance of “the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security,” while in return Israel only recognized the Palestinian Liberation Organization as “the representative of the Palestinian people.” Israel has never recognized Palestine or the Palestinians’ right to an independent state in the occupied territories. To this day, Israel has never formally recognized the Palestinian people’s right to independence in any internationally binding document.

Beginning in the first half of the 1990s, the Oslo process allowed all parties — including the international community, which has never recognized any Israeli sovereignty beyond the Green Line, including in East Jerusalem — to invest themselves in the idea of formal separation between Israel and the Palestinians. This support, however, never dictated any rigid or substantial limitations on Israeli expansionism in the occupied territories; settlement growth continued unabated even in the post-Oslo period.

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In fact, Oslo facilitated the transfer of many functions that were previously fulfilled by the Israeli occupation’s authorities to the newly established Palestinian Authority — mainly in the civilian management of the Palestinians in the West Bank’s major population centers. Meanwhile, any development in the fields of economy, infrastructure, municipal services, and natural resources are subject to authorization from the Israeli army, which acts as an extension of the Israeli government, and whose considerations exceeded matters of security as mandated by international law.

Today, Israel continues to operate, at least outwardly, with the same political logic it used in the 1990s. The internal balance, however, had changed: sticking to a vague idea of separation, which is neither informed by the Green Line as an agreed-upon border, nor by the notion of...

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Trump protests evoke memories of the Second Intifada

We stayed home from school for more than three months. When we returned, more than half of the class was gone. They say children always pay the highest price.

By Zizo Abul Hawa

I was nearly 13 when the Second Intifada started. We were in school when Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount. School ended early when the rioting began. The children were told to return home; parents came to pick up their kids. My school was in the center of East Jerusalem, very close to the Old City. My parents were at work and couldn’t pick me up, so I decided to go home alone.

On the way to the central bus station in East Jerusalem, my eyes began to burn and I started tearing up — I didn’t know why. It was the first time I had experienced tear gas. I started to cry and didn’t know what to do. Though I could barely see, what I did see was chaos everywhere: boys and girls leaving school and running, massive traffic jams, and screams in every direction.

I managed to reach my father’s work, which was close to the school. He worked at an electronics store. It was closed, like all of the businesses in the area that shuttered their storefronts due of the riots. I banged on the shutters and yelled “Baba” a few times until one of the other employees opened the store. He told me my father had gone to the school to pick me up, and told me to come inside. I didn’t want to. All I wanted was to be with my father, to feel safe, so I took off again for the school.

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When I got to the school, it was already closed and my father wasn’t there. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew that I didn’t want to return to the area of the central station. I told myself that I would try to escape through Wadi al-Joz because it was far from the central station. It wasn’t a short walk, in many ways, but eventually I made it home. My mother was already there. My father and...

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Embassy move is an act of humiliation against Abbas

It is also hard to see the Palestinian president agreeing to participate in negotiations headed by an American president who humiliated him so.

By Elhanan Miller

In the zero-sum game of Palestinian politics, every attack on Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority is interpreted as aiding his ideological rivals in Hamas. Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his announcement that the U.S. embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, along with other recent steps taken by the American government, thus weakened Mahmoud Abbas’s “diplomacy only” approach and increased the likelihood of a new outbreak of violence.

Trump’s speech did not come out of nowhere. Instead, it was the culmination of a longer process of an American erosion of the Palestinian Authority’s standing in the eyes of the Palestinian public. Last month, the U.S. State Department threatened to close the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s office in Washington in response to Mahmoud Abbas’s call for Israeli leaders to be put on trial in the Hague for their support of the settlement project. The State Department withdrew its threat to close the PLO office after a few days, but on the condition that the PLO office would limit its operation only to “activities related to achieving a complete and long-term peace between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel.”

Israel’s embassy in Washington, run by Ambassador Ron Dermer, has not faced any similar restrictions.

The American Congress is currently in the final stages of passing the Taylor Force Act, which will dramatically cut American financial support to the Palestinian Authority as long as the PA continues to pay salaries to Palestinians imprisoned in Israel for terrorist activity. The law, named after a young American former army officer who was stabbed and killed in Jaffa in March of 2016, passed with a large majority in the House of Representatives and is awaiting final approval by the Senate and the president. It is hard to criticize a law aimed at protecting the lives of Americans and Israelis; it is clear, however, that the unavoidable result of a sudden halt in funding to the families of thousands of prisoners would be widespread protests aimed at the Palestinian Authority.

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Europe, wake up and smell the coffee

Netanyahu’s Israel openly mocks the values that Europe claims to hold dear. When will European leaders stand up and reject the unacceptable reality of the past 50 years?

By Hagai El-Ad

European foreign ministers attending Prime Minister Netanyahu’s breakfast in Brussels this Monday may find their thoughts wandering, as the guest of honor once again speaks of Iran, self-indulgent whining of “double standards,” and “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Some breakfasts are more difficult to swallow than others.

And so, given a recent speech by a certain American president, the attending ministers’ thoughts may drift — perhaps to the occupied Palestinian territories. They may ask themselves some of the questions Israeli governments have consistently refused to address, such as: given how Israel’s grasp over the West Bank is being further cemented, why does Netanyahu’s government even bother to pay lip service to the “peace process?” And isn’t Israel’s policy of forced displacement of Palestinians from parts of the occupied territories a war crime? How many hours of electricity a day does Israel plan to ration for the 2 million Palestinians living at its doorstep in the Gaza Strip next week? And, embassy fanfare aside, what about the 370,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, living with no political rights since Israel’s annexation half a century ago?

Such unanswered questions may leave one’s mouth dry, and so the very same questions may percolate closer to home. For if Israel continues to cement its grasp all over the West Bank, why does Europe take seriously the occasional Israeli lip service to the “peace process?” And as Israel’s policy of forcibly displacing Palestinians from parts of the occupied territories is indeed a war crime, what is the EU’s effective counteraction? And for how much longer will the lie of “Israeli democracy,” alongside a 21st-century version of institutionalized oppression and dispossession, be accepted at Europe’s doorstep?

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Here’s a caffeine shot: it is all good and well to forever be disappointed by others while standing by and watching as unilateral moves become fait accompli. But it is Europe that has worn away its own credibility for years by repeatedly “expressing concern”...

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Welcome to the new American-Israeli consensus

The peace process, which began ceremoniously on the White House lawn in September 1993, has come to an end. We must find a new way.

By Menachem Klein

Conferences around the Arab world marking 100 years since the Balfour Declaration have just barely come to an end, and along comes a mini-Balfour and hands occupied Jerusalem over to Israel on a silver platter (apologies to Lord Balfour for the comparison). It is almost unnecessary to mention the many political and social differences between today and 100 years ago. But what molds Palestinian and Arab political opinion is not the historical reality, but rather the image, context, and framing, which connect Balfour’s declaration to the present day.

In Ramallah, the sense is that the United States has betrayed President Mahmoud Abbas. It did not matter how much he strove to maintain security coordination with Israel (despite his sinking public support), whether he tried to place obstacles in the reconciliation process with Hamas, or if he supported a peaceful two-state solution to the conflict.

For Palestinians and Muslims, the significance of Trump’s declaration is that the U.S. has unequivocally sided with Israel on the issue of Jerusalem, as well as on ending the occupation of the 1967 territories. Trump emphasized that the U.S. would support two states “if agreed to by both sides,” thus giving Israel the right to veto any solution it deems unsuitable. Netanyahu has previously said he is willing to grant the Palestinians a “state minus,” and only in part of the West Bank.

The American-Israeli consensus is that there will be no Palestinian state and no capital in Jerusalem. This, as opposed to the Palestinian and Arab consensus which supports the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with a capital in East Jerusalem. A dead end.

It is true that in the past Washington and Jerusalem held similar positions. But the U.S. always been openly committed to the principles of a peace process based on international law and previous UN resolutions. Now this era is gone as well. Trump has exempt Israel from all commitments to international law and UN Security Council resolutions, which established that annexing Jerusalem and the settlements are both illegitimate and unlawful. Abbas’ inevitable conclusion is clear: the U.S. has moved from acting as mediator to blind, open support for the Israeli Right. The peace process as...

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Protests against Trump declaration met with violence across Palestine

Thousands protest President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Israeli forces kill at least one and critically wound another. Hundreds more are wounded by live fire, rubber bullets, and tear gas.

By +972 Magazine

Israeli forces killed at least one Palestinian and wounded hundreds of others in clashes across the occupied territories on Friday. There were no reports of Israeli injuries at the time of writing.

Mahmoud Al-Masri, 30, was killed in clashes on the border area of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip during a demonstration in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. A second man, also wounded by IDF fire in Gaza, was in critical condition. The Israeli military said in a statement that soldiers had “fired selectively at two main instigators” of the “violent riots.”

Several thousand Palestinian demonstrated in the West Bank and Gaza, including in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Rafah, Hebron, Khan Younis, Jabaliya, and Nablus, after Palestinian factions called for a “Day of Rage.” Dozens were arrested by Israeli security forces, as protestors threw Molotov cocktails and rocks, while burning Israeli and U.S. flags, and stomping on posters of the U.S. president.

In Jerusalem, clashes broke out between Palestinian worshippers at Damascus Gate, after tens of thousands attended Friday noon prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Protests were also held in the Israeli cities of Umm al-Fahm, Kalansaua and Kafr Kana. One man was arrested on suspicion of throwing rocks in the city of Nazareth, where a protest was also held, according to Haaretz.

Meanwhile on Friday, Palestinian militants fired three rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Friday night. The first rocket was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. A short while later a second rocket launch was identified, however it is not currently known where the rocket landed, while the third rocket exploded in the southern Israeli city of Sderot.

In retaliation, the Israeli Air Force reportedly attacked a Hamas training compound and arms warehouse in Gaza, wounding 25, including children, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

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