Hundreds of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip rallied against a United States-brokered between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalise ties.
Protesters on Wednesday burned Israeli and US flags, trampled on posters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump, and chanted “normalisation is betrayal to Jerusalem and Palestine”.
The demonstrators in Gaza City also voiced support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his rejection of President Trump’s Middle East plan, which the Palestinians say unfairly favours Israel.
The protest was organised by the Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, and other factions.
Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, denounced the deal, and said: “Normalisation with the occupation harms us and doesn’t serve us. Instead, it serves and promotes the occupation in its projects that target Palestine and the region.”
The protests come as Israeli fighter jets bombed the enclave for the eighth consecutive night. Israel warned Hamas it was risking “war” by failing to stop incendiary balloons being launched across the fence with Israel.
Hamas security sources said Israeli fighter jets and drones struck several facilities that belong to the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the movement.
Last week, Israel banned fuel imports into Gaza as part of punitive measures over the launch of incendiary balloons from the Strip.
Israel also banned fishing off Gaza’s coast and closed the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) goods crossing – cutting off deliveries of fuel to the territory’s sole power plant which was forced to shut down on Tuesday.
Gaza homes and businesses rely on generators to make up for the lengthy power cuts, increasing the financial pressure on its largely impoverished people.
Power had been in short supply even before the shutdown, with consumers having access to electricity for only eight hours a day at best. That will now be just four hours a day using power supplied from the Israeli grid.
Despite a truce last year – backed by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations – tensions between Hamas and Israel rise sporadically.
Hamas says Israel did not honour previous understandings which stipulated that Israel ease the blockade it has imposed on Gaza since the group’s takeover and allow for large-scale projects to help rescue the collapsing economy.
Gaza, home to more than two million people, has been under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian-imposed blockade for 12 years that has severely restricted the movement of Palestinians.
Although Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from the Strip in 2005, it has maintained its control over Gaza’s airspace, territorial waters and land borders.
The siege has devastated the local economy, severely restricting the entry of food and access to basic services. It has also stopped the flow of construction materials needed to rebuild much of the enclave’s infrastructure, which was damaged in the previous Israeli military campaigns of 2008, 2012 and 2014.
‘Stab in the back’
Separately in the occupied West Bank, Palestinians rallied against the UAE’s announcement in a “large public gathering”, state-run Wafa news agency reported.
Members of Hamas and its rival group Fatah of President Mahmud Abbas’ West Bank based Palestinian Authority, took part in the rally in a rare joint initiative.
“Today we tell the world that we are united against ‘the deal of the century’, annexation and normalisation,” Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh told the rally in the village of Turmus’ayya, east of the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Under the deal Israel said it would “suspend” its plans to annex illegal Jewish settlements and other territory in the West Bank.
Those annexation plans were outlined in the so-called Middle East plan unveiled in January by US President Donald Trump.
“Any normalisation legitimises the occupation of Palestinian territories,” Shtayyeh said.
“It’s a stab in the back,” he added.
According to Wafa, Israeli forces closed off the town and fired tear gas and stun grenades at the people in a bid to disperse them.