Israeli forces used rubber bullets and tear gas canisters to break up the marches as protesters take to streets against Trump's so-called "deal of the century."

Palestinians lift placards which read
Palestinians lift placards which read "Palestine is not for sale" as they protest a US peace plan proposal at the northern entrance of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, January 30, 2020. (AFP)

Clashes erupted on Friday between the Israeli army and Palestinians across the occupied West Bank protesting the so-called "deal of the century" proposed by US President Donald Trump.

Palestinian demonstrators in Al Khalil (Hebron) in the southern West Bank marched towards the Israeli army's checkpoints in the old city.

Similar clashes erupted in the Jordan Valley and the entrance of Jericho in the eastern West Bank, where dozens of Palestinians suffered temporary asphyxiation from tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces.

In the northern West Bank, the Israeli army used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse several demonstrations near the cities of Nablus and Qalqiliya.

Israel hits targets in Gaza

Israel launched air strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip shortly after Palestinians fired three rockets into Israel, two of which were intercepted, the military said on Friday.

There were no reports of casualties or major damage from the exchange of fire overnight, which came amid heightened tensions after President Donald Trump released his Mideast plan, a US initiative aimed at ending the conflict that heavily favours Israel and was rejected by the Palestinians.

Trump on Tuesday released his oft-delayed plan to end the Israel-Palestine dispute during a press conference at the White House alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but with no Palestinian officials present.

Trump’s plan unilaterally annuls previous UN resolutions on the Israel-Palestine dispute and recognises illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The Israeli military said suspected Palestinians had also launched “explosive balloons" toward Israel and that a sniper had shot an observational antenna.

It said it struck targets linked to Hamas in response, including “underground infrastructure used to manufacture weapons.”

Later on Friday, the military said three mortar rounds were fired from Gaza. In response, an Israeli tank fired on a Hamas military post. There were no reports of casualties.

UN agency fears 'escalation in clashes'

Palestinians are in a "state of shock" over the peace plan, the head of the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees said, voicing fears of a surge in violence.

"We certainly have serious concerns that it will result in an escalation in clashes and in violence," said Christian Saunders, acting head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

'Extremely unsettling' 

"The plan that was released this week was extremely unsettling for the Palestine refugees living under occupation, under blockade and under conflict after conflict and crisis after crisis," Saunders told reporters in Geneva.

"I think a lot of people, a lot of Palestinians, are in a state of shock ... in a state of disbelief," he said.

Saunders was in Geneva to launch an appeal to donors to fund UNRWA's 2020 budget to the tune of $1.4 billion towards essential services and assistance for 5.6 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

UNRWA has faced a severe funding crunch ever since Trump in 2018 decided to suspend, then yank entirely the US contribution to the agency's budget, robbing it of its top donor.

Trump's administration, along with Israel, accuses UNRWA of perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The agency disputes that and says the services it provides would otherwise not be available to Palestinians.

After the US withdrew funding, a range of other countries stepped up support and UNRWA actually entered 2019 with a surplus of about $60 million, Saunders said.

"Unfortunately ... this initial support started to wane, and as a result we have been forced to carry over considerable liabilities into 2020," he said. "We are stretched to our limits."

Saunders has temporarily taken the helm of UNRWA after Swiss national Pierre Krahenbuhl was ousted last year amid allegations of "serious ethical abuses" by the management.

An internal UN probe found no "fraud or misappropriation of operational funds" by Krahenbuhl, but Saunders said the agency had taken criticism of mismanagement seriously.

"Since then we have put the place in order," he said.

At the same time, he lamented that UNRWA was facing a concerted campaign of misinformation by critics trying to convince parliamentarians in Europe especially not to fund the agency.

The agency was set up in the years after more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled their lands during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.

It provides schooling and medical services to refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as well as the Palestinian territories, and employs around 30,000 people, mostly Palestinians.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies