Jerusalem under lockdown as US moves its Israeli mission

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As Israel gears up for the official inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the city has been subjected to road closures and heavy police presence in anticipation of Palestinian protests.

The ceremony, beginning at 4pm (13:00 GMT) on Monday, was to be hosted by the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

According to Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld, up to 1,000 Israeli police officers will be posted around the embassy’s new location in the southwest neighbourhood of Arnona and surrounding areas.  

It is expected that US President Donald Trump will address the ceremony via video link from Washington.

The closures spread to occupied East Jerusalem, where access to the Old City has been curtailed from areas extending to it such as al-Tur, Mount of Olives, Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.

Protests have spread across the occupied Palestinian territories, with at least 10 people killed in Gaza and more than 500 wounded, the Palestinian ministry of health said.

Tear gas and rubber bullets

At the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Palestinian youth who were throwing stones.

Later on Monday, a protest rally was expected to make its way to the new US embassy location, but with the road closures the demonstration is not expected to reach its destination.

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In a statement released on Monday, the Palestinian Authority government described Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the US embassy move as “blatant violations of international law and disregard to the core values of justice and morality”.

“Choosing a tragic day in Palestinian history shows great insensibility and disrespect for the core principles of the peace process,” the statement said, referring to the Nakba, where Palestinians commemorate their ethnic cleansing by Zionist paramilitaries back in 1948.

“We convey our sincere gratitude to all countries that had the moral responsibility to stand by international legitimacy to protect Jerusalem and support the Palestinians hope for peace.”

Riyad al-Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, told a local radio station on Monday that the Palestinian leadership will go to the International Criminal Court and was preparing to file documents on crimes committed by Israel.

He called for an urgent meeting of the Arab League, which he said would be followed by meetings at the UN Security Council.

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