BEIRUT / SIDON / TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Palestinian factions across Lebanon held a “day of rage” and observed a general strike Thursday in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “After Trump’s decision, the political leadership of the secular and Islamic factions called for a general strike Thursday,” a Palestinian source told The Daily Star, confirming that facilities in all refugee camps had shut down and that demonstrations were being held across the country.
Palestinian refugees in south Lebanon’s camps responded to these calls, with shops, businesses and schools closing their doors in the Ain al-Hilweh and Mieh Mieh camps.
Protesters in Sidon’s Ain al-Hilweh burned tires in the camp and others fired gunshots into the air.
Demonstrations had been held in Ain al-Hilweh, the country’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, since Wednesday night, with protesters shouting “Jerusalem is our capital.”
“Jerusalem is the capital of religions and it is the capital of Palestine,” said Mohammad al-Asadi, as he joined the protest.
Another demonstrator, Fadwa al-Ahmad, described Trump’s decision as a “crime.”
“It is a humanitarian and ethical crime against our people and our weapons. The Intifada is the way to liberate Palestine,” Ahmad said.
Protests were also held at Beddawi refugee camp in north Lebanon, where refugees from both the Syrian and Palestinian communities joined with Lebanese protesters to condemn the decision. An Israeli flag was burned by demonstrators gathered in the camp’s aptly named Jerusalem Square.
Students from Tripoli University’s Faculty of Arts staged a sit-in on campus and delivered speeches calling for Arab and Islamic solidarity with Palestine.
Leading the Tripoli demonstration, former MP Mustafa Hashim said “the decision proves that this administration cannot be a sponsor of world peace as it claims.”
He called for “a comprehensive Arab position that rejects the Judaization of Jerusalem and affirms its Arab identity.”
In the city of Sidon, students from the Lebanese International University also took to the streets. Demonstrators burned photos of Trump in front of a cut-out of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock while carrying the Palestinian flag and banners denouncing the U.S. administration’s policy.
“Trump is wrong. We should protest and mobilize against this,” 13-year-old Khaled Draz told The Daily Star, speaking from the Rashidieh camp near south Lebanon’s Tyre.
“He is a crazy person, everyone knows that Jerusalem is Palestine’s capital,” fumed Hussein Musa, 72.
Students also turned out to demonstrate at the American University of Beirut, where an Israeli flag was also burned.
Protests and solidarity actions are expected to continue into Friday, coinciding with the “day of rage” that was called for by the Hamas movement in occupied Palestine.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah called for widespread protests in Lebanon Monday.
The Future Movement announced that it would hold a solidarity rally in Downtown Beirut near the grave of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri after afternoon prayers Friday, as well as at 5 p.m. at the Future Movement’s regional headquarters in Sidon, south Lebanon, the north, Bekaa and Mount Lebanon.
The Directorate General of Islamic Endowments meanwhile issued a circular urging Mosque preachers to focus their Friday sermon on denouncing Trump’s decision, which came at the request of Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Latif Derian, according to state-run National News Agency. – Additional reporting by Ghinwa Obeid and Gareth Browne