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Two Palestinians die in Israeli airstrike retaliation

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Two Palestinians die in Israeli airstrike retaliation


Dec. 9 (UPI) — Two Hamas militants died in an Israeli airstrike Saturday in retaliation of rocket fire that hit an Israeli town amid protests against President Donald Trump‘s decision for the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The death toll since the declaration rose to four. Two protesters were shot dead Friday near Gaza‘s border fence with Israel during a “day of rage.” An estimated 3,000 Palestinian protesters demonstrated and clashed with Israeli Defense Forces at nearly 30 locations across the West Bank and Gaza Strip — leaving nearly 250 Palestinians injured.

The Israeli military said it struck four Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip: two weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse and a military compound.

The Gaza Health Ministry said the Nusseirat military base in central Gaza was struck and 15 people were injured, including a child.

Israel responded after rockets were fired from Gaza. One hit the town of Sderot, but inflicted no human casualties.

Israel called it a “severe act of aggression” and held Hamas responsible for all “hostile activity.”

Hazim Qasem, a spokesman for Hamas, said Israel will suffer the consequences of the escalation and accused the United States of giving Israel “cover for these crimes.”

Also Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas canceled a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, meant to take place later this month, according to an aide cited by Israeli media.

And Egypt’s Coptic Church said its pope also called off a sit-down with Pence during that trip. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital did not consider the “feelings of millions of Arab people,” the church said.

Protests also were reported in several Arab communities inside Israel.

In East Jerusalem, Israeli police attempted to break up a few dozen Palestinians protesting on a main shopping street. The demonstration turned violent as Palestinians threw stones.

Israeli police said four police officers sustained minor injuries. A Palestinian medic said eight people were hurt, including two sent to a hospital.

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