Lebanese security forces clashed with demonstrators near the U.S. embassy in Beirut on Sunday as anger over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital continued to spread across the region.
Thousands of protesters gathered in front of the entrance leading to the embassy, chanting anti-U.S. slogans and burning American and Israeli flags. Despite calls to remain non-violent, some of the demonstrators threw stones, water bottles and sticks at riot police who had assembled to guard the embassy.
The Lebanese security forces at the scene responded by spraying the protesters with water cannons and shooting tear gas to disperse the crowd, reports The New York Times.
Similar violent protests have erupted across the world in response to Trump’s decision earlier this week to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announce plans to move the U.S. embassy there. A decisive change from longtime U.S. policy, the move was widely supported in Israel, but drew condemnation from Arab leaders and many Western allies.
The most serious clashed have occurred in Israel itself, with fighting between Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and cities across the West Bank. On Friday, Israeli jets carried out airstrikes against suspected terrorists in Gaza after rockets were fired at Israeli residential areas. The situation in Israel is especially tense after calls by Hamas to mount a third intifada, or mass uprising, against Israeli forces over the perceived change in Jerusalem’s status. (RELATED: Israel Launches Airstrikes In Gaza As Hamas Calls For Third Mass Uprising)
Ahead of the protests in Beirut, leaders of the 22-member Arab League said Trump’s decision puts the U.S. on the “side of occupation” and “exempts it from a mediation role in the peace process.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has insisted the U.S. policy change does not determine any “final status” for Jerusalem. The issue of sovereignty in Jerusalem will eventually be decided through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, he said in Paris on Friday.
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