Palestinians In 'Day of Rage' Against US Policy Shift

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The US has effectively backed Israel's right to build Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank, angering Palestinians. Protests have taken place across the West Bank as Palestinians took part in a "day of rage" against last week's dramatic US policy shift on Israeli settlements.

By late afternoon on Tuesday, more than 60 Palestinians had received medical care as a consequence of the effects of tear gas and rubber bullets fired by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) according to the Red Crescent.

An IDF spokesperson said that Israeli soldiers responded with riot dispersal means against 1,000 or so protesters burning tyres and throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers at various locations within the West Bank and at checkpoints between the two sides.

The protests were organized by several Palestinian parties, including Fatah, the ruling political party in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority education ministry closed schools early to encourage students and enable parents to take part in the protests. Organizers billed the protests as a peaceful popular resistance against Israeli occupation.

They repeated their longstanding call for the international community to step up its condemnation of Israel and to condemn the Trump administration's decision to declare that Israeli settlements within the West Bank do not contravene with the international law. The International Criminal Court and the UN both consider Gaza and the West Bank to be territory illegally occupied by Israel.

Previous American administrations have explicitly stated that the building of Israeli settlements within the West Bank is illegal and should not happen. However, their construction has continued with more than 700,000 Jewish settlers now living in the West Bank.

The Trump administration's decision to fundamentally shift the US position is facilitating Israeli crimes and aggression against the Palestinians according to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yusef.

Palestinians see both Gaza and the West Bank as key components of a future independent state under the now fledgling two state peace plan. Thousands of people protested in major Palestinian cities including Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, Jericho, Ramallah and Jenin. Some burnt cardboard cutouts of US President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

While the numbers were not as large as organisers might have expected, senior officials say it marks the beginning of a new era of rage with more days of protest in the coming weeks ahead.

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Timothy Omondi