Thousands of Palestinians participated in protests on Friday, December 29, against the recent US announcement that it will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin preparations to move the US Embassy to the city. Roughly 4000 Palestinians participated in the protests across the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday; at least 50 protesters were wounded by live ammunition fired by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers near the Gaza border security fence. A heightened security presence, consequent traffic disruptions, and additional protests are expected in Israel and the Palestinian territories over the US announcement on Jerusalem in the coming weeks.
Tensions have escalated between Israel and the Palestinians since US President Donald Trump announced the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6. Mass protests have been taking place in the Palestinian territories; these protests have resulted in violent clashes between demonstrators and Israeli forces on numerous occasions. Tensions have been particularly acute in the Gaza Strip, which has been under the control of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, recognized as a terrorist group by the State of Israel.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, thousands of Palestinians have been wounded and hundreds of others arrested in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in related protests and clashes since the US announcement.
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.