Palestinian security forces are deploying more than 3,000 officers in the West Bank to contain protests that have erupted in Palestinian cities in response to President Obama’s visit to the area. There have been angry demonstrations in protest of the visit every day this week.
In Bethlehem, protesters in the famous Manger Square tore down a billboard welcoming Obama, spray painted a swastika on the U.S. president’s forehead, and left it in the street for cars to drive over. A video shows official Palestinian Authority cars driving over the billboard. Bethlehem protesters this week also threw shoes at a U.S. diplomatic vehicle arriving in the city to prepare for Obama’s Thursday visit. They then set fire to and trampled a picture of the President, before stuffing it into a trash dumpster.
In the West Bank town of Ramallah, police clashed with and blocked anti-Obama protesters trying to reach the offices of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Among their chants were “O malicious Obama, defender of the state of the Jews,” “we hereby declare, America is the mother of terror,” “this nation shall not be humiliated or succumb to the Americans,” and “Obama go back, Palestine is not for sale.” They also carried placards reading “Obama, we will never forget Iraq,” “America is the head of the snake,” and “Obama, get out of Jerusalem and Ramallah.” One protest organizer told the Jerusalem Post that “Obama is not welcome in Palestine.”
In Hebron, Palestinian demonstrators staged an anti-Obama march while wearing masks of Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the Gaza Strip, demonstrators set fire to U.S. flags and posters of the president. One banner read “Obama, the Hitler of the 21st century” while another declared that “Palestinian blood is on your hands Obama.”
Palestinian activists also took to social media to express hatred toward the President. A Facebook page titled “Activists around the world for Palestine,” with more than 119,000 Facebook Likes, posted that “Obama is not a visitor , not a tourist, he is a terrorist #ObamaOut.”
Obama is scheduled to meet Thursday in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. On Friday he will travel from Jerusalem to Bethlehem before continuing to Jordan.