Palestinians shuttered schools and shops and called for protests in West Bank towns yesterday, while the leader of the Hamas militant group called for a new armed uprising, in widespread show of anger over US President Donald Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Trump's dramatic break on Wednesday with decades of US policy on Jerusalem counters long-standing international assurances to the Palestinians that the fate of the city will be determined in negotiations. The Palestinians seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as a future capital.
There have been no signs of serious violence so far. But today, the Muslim holy day, could provide an important test when Palestinians gather for weekly mass prayers.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas' leader Ismail Haniyeh called on Palestinians to launch a new intifada, or uprising, against Israel.
"The American decision is an aggression on our people and a war on our sanctuaries," Haniyeh said in a speech, urging supporters "to be ready for any orders."
"We want the uprising to last and continue to let Trump and the occupation regret this decision," he said.
Gaza, Hamas' stronghold, is closed by an Israeli blockade, while in the West Bank, many of its members have been arrested. Nonetheless, it possesses a large arsenal of rockets capable of striking much of Israel.
Spontaneous protests sparked in Gaza overnight, with angry youths burning tires, American and Israeli flags and Trump posters.
The Israeli military said it would deploy several battalions to the West Bank, while other troops have been put on alert. to address "possible developments."
The conflicting claims to Jerusalem, and especially its Old City, where sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites are located, lie at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Trump's decision had no impact on the city's daily life, it carried deep symbolic meaning, and was seen as siding with Israel and an attempt to impose a solution on the Palestinians.
Israel, which claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, has welcomed Trump's decision. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Trump "bound himself forever" to the history of Jerusalem with the move and claimed other states are considering following suit.
"We are already in contact with other states that will make a similar recognition," he said yesterday.