Protests broke out on Wednesday, December 6, in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, following an announcement by US President Donald Trump earlier in the day that the US will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will begin steps to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There have been unconfirmed reports of violence during Wednesday night's protests; clashes are likely in the coming hours into Thursday.
Hamas has called for three "days of rage" in the West Bank from December 6-8, as well as a new intifada ("uprising") in response to the announcement. Fatah has called for a general strike to be held on Thursday, December 7, also in protest of President Trump’s announcement.
Widespread protests, and consequent transportation disruptions, are expected to continue in the coming days in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The US Department of State has issued a ban on employee travel to East Jerusalem and the West Bank due to heightened tensions and potential security concerns, and has advised all US citizens to avoid crowded areas or areas with an increased military presence. Security measures have been reinforced at US diplomatic missions across the region, including in Israel, and Israeli Defense Forces are reportedly on "high alert" in anticipation of unrest.
On Wednesday, December 6, President Trump announced that the US officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a departure from the previous US and international position of neutrality on the status of the city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians; no country has an embassy in Jerusalem. World leaders have strongly advised the US administration against the move, claiming it would render impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state and would inflame tensions across the Muslim world.
The US Congress passed a law in 1995 stipulating that the US Embassy in Israel be moved to Jerusalem by May 1999; US Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama all issued waivers every six months to delay the move throughout their respective tenures.
Individuals in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip are advised to monitor developments to the situation and to avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence. A surge in anti-American and anti-Western sentiment is likely in some areas; all travelers, and Westerners in particular, are advised to maintain a low profile (do not discuss sensitive topics, do not stop to take photographs of demonstrations, etc.) and avoid unnecessary movements in the event of unrest.
More generally, due to the underlying terrorist threat, travelers in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip are advised to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities and to remain vigilant when visiting sites deemed particularly likely to be targeted in an attack (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, markets, hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners/Westerners, etc.). As a reminder, several Western governments advise their citizens against all travel to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and areas near the Israeli-Lebanese, Israeli-Syrian, and Israeli-Egyptian borders.
Copyright and Disclaimer