Palestinians protest Trump Middle East plan in peaceful mosque demonstrations

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Following the announcement of President Trump’s Middle East peace plan, which involves Israel annexing areas of the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians last week occupied morning prayer services in mosques in Jerusalem, Nablus and other cities in a massive peaceful protest.

The move comes in stark contrast with violent demonstrations on the Gaza Strip where 215 Palestinians were killed and several thousand injured in conflicts with Israeli troops.

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Despite Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ call for “Days of Rage,” there have only been small regular street rallies, according to Reuters, since members of a joint U.S.-Israeli committee began meeting last week to map out areas of the West Bank Israel may annex in the future.

Washington urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to move forward with annexation until the committee concluded its work, the Times of Israel reported. In December, Trump announced a “peace plan” allowing Israel to draw its own security borders, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Palestinians perform the Fajr (Dawn) prayers outside Al-Nasir mosque in Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 14, 2020. Picture taken February 14, 2020. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta - RC2Z2F9J0MKU

Palestinians perform the Fajr (Dawn) prayers outside Al-Nasir mosque in Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 14, 2020. Picture taken February 14, 2020. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta – RC2Z2F9J0MKU

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Instead, the “Great Fajr Campaign,” first launched on social media by Fatah, Abbas’s nationalist political faction that dominates the Palestine Liberation Organization, called for Palestinians to flood the Friday prayer services at mosques and Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and Hebron.

The peaceful protest campaign gained support from the Islamist group Hamas.

Palestinians perform the Fajr (Dawn) prayers outside Al-Nasir mosque in Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 14, 2020. Picture taken February 14, 2020. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta - RC2Z2F94KZ6B

Palestinians perform the Fajr (Dawn) prayers outside Al-Nasir mosque in Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 14, 2020. Picture taken February 14, 2020. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta – RC2Z2F94KZ6B

“This is the most peaceful way to get the message out,” restaurant owner Saif Abu Baker told Reuters as protesters crowded the streets in Nablus Friday. “I would hope that it is a new form of channeling the way the message is being sent out there because we have tried protesting and it did not work because we don’t have enough power. It’s the safer way for everyone.”

Speaking to Reuters in Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the campaign to drive attendance at already crowded morning services was the best way to spread the word about plans to annex the West Bank.

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Attendance at the Friday morning prayer in Nablus surged to several thousand last week, compared to the 2,000 who had attended the week before, Reuters reported. Demonstrators held signs bearing Hammas slogans like, “A nation with the leadership of Muhammad will not be defeated.” Others in florescent jackets, who called themselves “Knights of the Dawn,” handed out extra prayer carpets, food and water at the nearby al-Nasr (Victory) mosque.



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