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Palestinians shot dead by Israeli army in Gaza clashes over Trump’s Jerusalem declaration

Two Palestinians have been shot dead by the Israeli army in Gaza during clashes over Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

As tensions rise in the region following the US President’s move, Israel responded to three rockets being fired towards it from Gaza with airstrikes it said targeted a training compound and ammunition warehouse.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 25 people were wounded in the strikes, six of them children.

It comes after Mahmoud al Masri, 30, and 54-year-old Maher Atallahwas were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces.

The deaths are the first after protests began following the announcement on Wednesday that Mr Trump would move Israel’s US embassy to Jerusalem and his declaration that he recognises the city as Israel’s capital.

Israeli forces clash with Palestinian protestors near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

Protests as Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israeli capital
Palestinian protesters run during clashes in the southern Gaza Strip
There were protests in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza’s Khan Younis,

The Israeli military said in a statement that soldiers had “fired selectively at two main instigators” of “violent riots” and confirmed hitting them.

Palestinians had declared Friday a “day of rage”, with protests in cities including Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza’s Khan Younis, where the man was killed and at least 40 others were wounded.

People at the no-man’s land by the border fence rolled burning tyres and threw stones, and were met with gunfire and tear gas from soldiers.

In the West Bank, Palestinian medics said dozens of demonstrators had been treated for tear gas inhalation and rubber bullet wounds, following sporadic clashes at Israeli checkpoints.

A Palestinian protester uses a sling shot to hurl stones towards Israeli troops during clashes in Ramallah
Palestinians hurled stones towards Israeli troops in Ramallah

Worshippers at Al Aqsa mosque headed towards Jerusalem’s Old City after Friday prayers, chanting “Jerusalem is ours, Jerusalem is our capital” and “We don’t need empty words, we need stones and Kalashnikovs”.

Heavy security reinforcements had been put in place in expectation of violence, but by the evening the situation appeared calmer than some had expected.

Mr Trump’s decision has received widespread condemnation, with leaders including Theresa May, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin all speaking out.

At the UN on Friday, traditional US allies criticised the move.

There was a heavy Israeli security presence in the city on Friday
There was a heavy Israeli security presence in Jerusalem on Friday

Britain’s UN ambassador Matthew Rycroft said it was “unhelpful to peace”, while Italy’s Sebastiano Cardi voiced fears of “the risk of unrest and tensions in the region”.

In response, US ambassador Nikki Haley said Washington is more committed to peace “than we’ve ever been before – and we believe we might be closer to that goal than ever before”.

She also hit out at the UN, accusing the organisation of hindering the peace process.

Ms Haley said: “Over many years the United Nations has outrageously been of the world’s foremost centres of hostility towards Israel.

“The UN has done much more damage to the prospects for Middle East peace than to advance them. We will not be a party to that.”

Palestinian protesters gathered in Bethlehem, to reject Trump's Jerusalem declaration
Palestinian protesters gathered in Bethlehem to reject Trump’s Jerusalem declaration

Top Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat earlier said the announcement meant “the two-state solution was over”, while Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a new Palestinian uprising, or Intifada.

Both Israelis and Palestinians stake a claim on Jerusalem, and the status of the city was set to be decided in a final peace agreement.

The east of the city has been annexed by Israel since the 1967 war, which also saw the occupation of the West Bank.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and undivided capital and the Temple Mount the centre of the Jewish faith. But the city is also home to more than 300,000 Palestinians, some 40% of its population, and Islam’s third holiest site.

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said on Friday that the proposed embassy move would likely take several years, and that it “did not indicate any final status for Jerusalem”.

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