Thousands join Gaza protests against peace plan

Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets of Gaza to protest against US President Donald Trump’s newly unveiled peace plan for the Middle East.

Youths set fire to tires and burned pictures of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Social media was also awash with angry backlashes to the deal which many posters claimed would only exert further pressure on the Palestinian people.

As part of the long-awaited plan, Trump has proposed a Palestinian state double the size of existing Palestinian territories, with East Jerusalem as its capital and a US Embassy there.

But Hamas official Raafat Morra said: “National unity and Palestinian popular steadfastness at home and abroad, adhering to the resistance project by all means, and cooperating with the living forces in the nation, are the best ways to confront the new American-Israeli plan.”

Reiterating Hamas’ comprehensive rejection of the plan, he added that it would lead to the “liquidation of the Palestinian cause, the confirmation of the Israeli occupation, and the cancelation of all Palestinian rights.”

Secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad, Ziyad Al-Nakhalah, said on Wednesday that the US president’s “deal of the century” threw up great challenges.

“This plan poses a major challenge that requires us to change our approach to dealing with everything. This challenge must make us leave the norm and push us to create new facts with our sacrifices and to have the willingness and motivation to confront and address this bullying without hesitation,” he added.

Shops closed and students stayed away from schools on Wednesday in Gaza after Palestinian factions called for a general strike.

Sama Ayoub, 45, said: “My children did not go to school today. We reject the deal of the century, which I believe to be the slap of the century. As (Palestinian) President Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) said, there will be no peace without obtaining the minimum of our rights.

“What do they want us to accept — that we give up Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and all our rights, that our lands be confiscated without being refused, that we accept it for money?” she added.

But Raed Dabban, 35, said: “There are exciting aspects of the deal. Our current situation in Palestine is bad, especially in the Gaza Strip.

“Palestinian leaders must search for solutions to reality in the Gaza Strip in particular and strengthen the resilience of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, so that everyone can reject with all power the concessions that compromise our rights.

“We are on the threshold of a critical stage in our political life and our future, and our living conditions are bad. People cannot stand up without the ingredients for resilience. This is the role of leaders,” he added.

Following a phone conversation with Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ political bureau chief, Abbas announced on Tuesday that a delegation from Ramallah would be sent to Gaza for reconciliation talks. Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat also said that a delegation from the Fatah party would go to Gaza next week to meet with Hamas.

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