Protests erupted once again throughout the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip on Friday, January 12, 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. Nearly 2000 Palestinians reportedly participated in the protests and clashed with Israeli security forces throughout the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank, hundreds of Palestinians took part in associated clashes with Israeli security forces in Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Al-Bireh, Qalqilyah, Nablus, and Jericho, among several other areas. Israeli forces reportedly arrested several Palestinians on Friday in these clashes and in raids on houses in the West Bank.
Dozens of Palestinian protesters staged a sit-in and shouted slogans near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem following Friday prayers, amid a heightened Israeli police presence. Roughly 1000 others protested in the Gaza Strip on Friday. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, some 176 Palestinian protesters were wounded by live and rubber ammunition and by tear gas fired by Israeli security forces on Friday throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
A heightened security presence, consequent traffic disruptions, and additional protests are expected to continue in Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming weeks over the US announcement concerning Jerusalem.
The January 12 protests mark the sixth consecutive Friday that related protests have been held throughout the Palestinian territories. Friday's protests also come after tensions spiked following the death of two Palestinian teenagers, killed by Israeli security forces on January 11.
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 on a regular basis since the announcement; 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.