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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, January 22, 2018

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Trump urges calm as violence grips Middle East on Jerusalem

Trumps decision declaring Jerusalem

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, violent clashes broke out in the Middle East.

Now, Trump has called for calm and moderation in the Middle East and the White House issued a statement amid reports of clashes in the region.

The White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters in a statement, "The president has called for calm and moderation and we are hoping that the voices of tolerance prevail over purveyors of hate. The president does remain committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Defending Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, Shah said, "We think that the decision to recognize reality, and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is the right decision.”

When asked if the President was warned that his decision on Jerusalem would lead to violence, Shah said, "He’s fully aware of potential ramifications but we believe strongly that if you are going to be an honest broker in the Middle East, you need to be honest, and recognizing reality is the first part of that."

While Israel has welcomed Trump’s decision, it has resulted in outrage in the Middle East and opposition from many American partners and allies.

In an emergency meeting on Friday, 14 members of the UN Security Council spoke out against President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

While some members expressed regret, others reacted with anger at the 15th member, the United States.

However, this wasn’t the first time that the U.S. stood alone in defending its close ally, Israel, in the UN's most powerful body. 

Over decades, the U.S. has vetoed many council resolutions it viewed as harmful to Israel.

However, America’s recent decision is seen as a violation in the eyes of the rest of the council and most of the world clearly violates UN resolutions.

Other members claim that a decision on Jerusalem is an issue to be resolved by Israel and the Palestinians in peace negotiations on a two-state solution.

Since the start of the year, the Trump administration has been working on a new Mideast peace proposal.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council on Friday that the U.S. is more committed to peace "than we've ever been before - and we believe we might be closer to that goal than ever before."

Meanwhile, an IDF Spokesman said on Friday that the Israel Air Force struck two Hamas targets in Gaza in response to earlier rocket fire.

A commander in Hamas's armed wing, Mahar Atalla, reportedly died from wounds inflicted in clashes with the IDF earlier in the day. 

Hamas later confirmed that two of its gunmen were killed in the bombings. 

A Hamas source further confirmed that the two men killed in the strikes belonged to the group, which urged Palestinians to keep up confrontation with Israeli forces. 

A spokesperson for Sderot said that one rocket struck the city of Sderot in Israel's south and the rocket caused damage to several vehicles, though no casualties were reported.

Local reports noted that the Nasser Salah Eddine brigades, a Palestinian militant organization operating out of the Gaza Strip, has claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.

The IAF fighter jets are said to have hit two targets, a Hamas training compound and an arms depot.

In a statement the Palestinian Health Ministry said at least 30 people were wounded in the strikes, including six children.

Soon as local media organizations reported about the injuries, another rocket alarm siren went off in southern Israel - the fourth one in a day.

Rocket sirens were also sounded in Sdot Negev Regional Council and in Bnei Shimon. 

The IDF has reported that rockets were fired toward Israel from Gaza, but no landings have yet been discovered. 

Troops are currently searching the area.

Alarms were heard in several other communities in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip.

There were some reports of an explosion seen over the city of Sderot. 

The IDF spokesperson's office said in a statement that Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense System intercepted a rocket fired towards Israel from Gaza.

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