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article imageLebanon forces fire tear gas at protestors near US embassy

By Colin BERTIER (AFP)     Dec 10, 2017 in World

Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water cannons on Sunday at demonstrators near the US embassy as they protested Washington's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

An AFP correspondent in Awkar on the outskirts of the capital Beirut said several hundred pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered near the US embassy, located in the area.

They were blocked from reaching the complex by a metal gate sealing the road leading to the embassy, and security forces fired tear gas and water cannons to repel demonstrators who tried to open the gate by force.

An AFP photographer was lightly wounded in the chest when a member of the Lebanese security forces fired a rubber bullet at him.

He was among several people hurt in the violence, during which protesters also hurled rocks at the Lebanese forces blocking the way to the US embassy.

The police detained some demonstrators but it was not clear how many.

Protestors waving Palestinian and Lebanese flags, and sporting black-and-white checked keffiyeh scarves, chanted slogans against President Donald Trump, who on Wednesday recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

A group of demonstrators set alight an effigy of the US president, whose decision has upended decades of American diplomacy and an international consensus to leave the status of Jerusalem to be resolved in negotiations.

Lebanese security forces use a water cannon to disperse protestors during a demonstration outside th...
Lebanese security forces use a water cannon to disperse protestors during a demonstration outside the US embassy in Awkar, on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital Beirut, on December 10, 2017
ANWAR AMRO, AFP

"We're here to tell Trump his decision is meaningless. Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine," said Sylvia Ammoud, wearing the trademark keffiyeh headdress tied around her neck as a scarf.

"It isn't just a city, it's the struggle in which we grew up to build the Palestinian cause," she said.

"We, the people, today want to rise up and get our message across on this issue, because it's an issue that concerns our dignity and our history," said another protester, who gave his name as Khaled.

The demonstrators included members of Palestinian parties, as well as Lebanese Islamists and leftists.

The head of Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, has called for a mass demonstration against Trump's decision on Monday in the group's stronghold in the southern Beirut suburbs.

"I am calling on men, women, young and old, the southern suburbs, Beirut and all those who wish to join in from across Lebanon," Nasrallah said, also inviting residents of Lebanon's 12 Palestinian refugee camps.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon, including those who fled or were expelled from their homes after Israel's founding, as well as their descendants.

Protestors wave the Palestinian flag during a demonstration outside the US embassy in Awkar  on the ...
Protestors wave the Palestinian flag during a demonstration outside the US embassy in Awkar, on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital Beirut, on December 10, 2017
ANWAR AMRO, AFP

Israel occupied southern Lebanon for 22 years before withdrawing in 2000, but the two countries remain technically at war.

In 2006, Israel fought a devastating war against Hezbollah in Lebanon that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 120 Israelis, most of them soldiers.

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