Israeli settlements: Palestinians in 'day of rage' against US policy shift

Mark Stone, Middle East correspondent in Jerusalem

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 told Sky News that Israeli soldiers responded "with riot dispersal means" to 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.

An IDF soldier was lightly injured after being hit by a rock.

The protests were organised by several Palestinian factions, 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.

Organisers 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 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 Organisation (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 hoped, senior officials say it marks the beginning of a "new era of rage" with more days of protest in the weeks ahead.

Top Fatah official Abbas Zaki said that Donald Trump had given the Israelis a green light "to destroy the two-state solution".

"Israel thinks it is capable of defeating our people by committing crimes against them. But our people will not be defeated," he said.

Palestinian anger was exacerbated by the death, in an Israeli jail, of a prominent Palestinian prisoner.

Sami Abu Diak, 35, was serving three life sentences for voluntary manslaughter and kidnapping.

He was suffering from cancer but his request to die at home with his family was rejected by Israel.

In a statement, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi from the PLO department of public diplomacy and policy, condemned Israel.

She said: "Sami is the newest victim of Israel's reprehensible policy of medical negligence against Palestinian prisoners, who also endure other forms of grave violations of human rights and war crimes at the hands of their Israeli captors, including torture.

"With his tragic death, Sami becomes the 222nd Palestinian prisoner to die in Israeli prisons."