Palestinians in Gaza fire rockets at Israel, says army

Palestinians hold posters showing US Vice President Mike Pence during a protests against his visit near the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on Dec. 17, 2017.

:: Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired two rockets at southern Israel on Sunday night, the Israeli army said in a statement without giving further details.

State-owned Kan 11 TV said nobody was injured, despite one of the rockets apparently hitting a house.

The attacks ended a three-day lull in the latest wave of rocket attacks amid anger over US President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

On Wednesday Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted two rockets fired from Gaza while a third came down inside Israeli territory.

Early Thursday morning Israeli aircraft hit three “military facilities” of the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.

Militants in the Palestinian enclave have fired both rockets and mortar rounds into Israel since Trump’s deeply controversial announcement.

Trump’s announcement was followed by protests across the Palestinian territories, with six Gazans killed — four in clashes with Israeli forces along the border and two Hamas militants in an Israeli air strike in retaliation for rocket fire.

Protesters set fire to placards of Pence

A small group of Palestinian protesters on Sunday set fire to placards printed with images of US Vice President Mike Pence and Middle East negotiator Jason Greenblatt outside Jesus’s traditional birthplace, days before their arrival in the region.

With Bethlehem’s illuminated Christmas tree behind them, about 30 people stood quietly holding candles at Manger Square next to the Church of the Nativity, the site Christians believe marks Jesus’s birthplace, before setting the placards alight.

“Bethlehem welcomes the messengers of peace, not the messengers of war”, read some placards with pictures of Pence and Greenblatt as they went up in flames.

The US vice president is due in the region later this week but the Palestinians have said he is not welcome and President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet him during his visit, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said last week, a move the White House described as “unfortunate”.

Greenblatt, who has held several rounds of discussions with Israeli and Palestinian officials during the past few months in an effort to restart peace talks that have been frozen since 2014, is also due to arrive this week.

Violent protests have been held almost daily in the Palestinian territories over US President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement in which he overturned long-standing US policy on Jerusalem and said he was recognizing it as Israel’s capital.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in a 1967 war, to be occupied territory and say the status of the city should be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Israel has welcomed Trump’s announcement as recognizing political reality and biblical Jewish roots in Jerusalem. It says that all of Jerusalem — a city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians — is its capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

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