Israel to double Gaza border, West Bank forces for US embassy move

A Palestinian protester taking part in clashes near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza City.
A Palestinian protester taking part in clashes near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza City.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JERUSALEM (AFP) - The Israeli army said Saturday it would almost double the number of troops surrounding the Gaza Strip and in the occupied West Bank to tackle Palestinian protests against Monday’s controversial opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem.

Three additional infantry brigades will be deployed next week, two around the Gaza Strip and one in the West Bank, nearly doubling the number of fighting units currently serving, an army spokesman told reporters.

The announcement does not concern Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, where responding to protests is the responsibility of the police.

US President Donald Trump will not attend the opening of the new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, but his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner will.

Palestinians consider the eastern part of the city as their capital and Trump’s December announcement of the embassy move led to major protests in Gaza and the West Bank.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians are expected to protest along the Gaza border Monday, with the strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas voicing support in recent days for attempts to breach the fence.

Separately Saturday Israeli aircraft carried out a number of strikes against what the army said was a Hamas attack tunnel near the Gaza border.