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Israeli Forces Kill Over 55 in Gaza as US Embassy Opens in Jerusalem

Tuesday 15 May 2018, by siawi3

Source: https://thewire.in/world/israeli-forces-kill-dozens-gaza-us-embassy-jerusalem

Israeli Forces Kill Over 55 in Gaza as US Embassy Opens in Jerusalem

The number of fatalities have made this the deadliest day since the latest round of demonstrations began six weeks ago.

The Wire Staff

14.05.18, 17 hours ago

New Delhi: As the United States inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem, protests on the Gaza border took a grim turn on May 14 as at least 55 were confirmed killed by the along the border fence where protestors had gathered in large numbers. The number of fatalities have made this the deadliest day since the latest round of demonstrations began six weeks ago.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said that the dead included six children under the age of 18. Ministry officials said about 2,200 Palestinians were wounded, half of them by live bullets. According to various reports, the Israeli military open fire on protestors with live bullets even as drones shot down teargas on thousands of unarmed protestors and several members of the media who have been reporting from the area.

Video here 0:30

The US relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv fulfilled a pledge by US president Donald Trump, who has recognised the holy city as the Israeli capital. But the move has fired Palestinian anger and drawn criticism from many foreign governments as a setback to peace efforts.

Trump opted not to attend the ceremony in which a US consular building was repurposed into an embassy pending the construction of a new facility. Instead, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both White House advisers, were there at the inauguration where two American pastors and a rabbi gave invocations.

Photo: Senior White House Adviser Ivanka Trump during the dedication ceremony of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

“When President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it,” Kushner said in a rare public speech, a reference to a campaign pledge to open an embassy in Jerusalem. “Today also demonstrates American leadership. By moving our embassy to Jerusalem, we have shown the world once again that the United States can be trusted.”

Kushner also referred to the US pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal to make his point: “Last week President Trump acknowledged another truth and kept another promise. He announced his intention to exit the dangerous, flawed and one-sided Iran deal.”

Even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump for “having the courage to keep your promises”, France has made its disapproval clear. In a statement on Monday, the foreign ministry called on “all actors to show responsibility to prevent a new fire”.

“This decision contravenes international law and in particular the resolutions of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly. It is urgent to recreate the conditions necessary for a search for a political solution, in a region already marked by strong tensions,” the ministry said.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, in a statement on Monday, accused the US of “blatant violations of international law”.

“Choosing a tragic day in Palestinian history (to open the Jerusalem embassy) shows great insensibility and disrespect for the core principles of the peace process,” Hamdallah wrote.

Omar Shakir, the now expelled director of Human Rights Watch for Israel and Palestine, tweeted:

Breaking: @hrw reacts to Israel’s gunning down of dozens of Palestinian protesters in Gaza today. pic.twitter.com/Jm5gMig0vk

Shakir was expelled from Israel just two days ago, joining several others who have been exiled because of their criticism of the occupation.

The spokesman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May that the country “remains firmly committed to a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital”.

“We are concerned by the reports of violence and loss of life in Gaza. We urge calm and restraint to avoid actions destructive to peace efforts,” he told reporters.

The dead

The Palestinian dead on Monday included a medic and a man in a wheelchair who had been pictured on social media using a slingshot, Reuters reported. The Israeli military said three of those killed were armed militants who tried to place explosives near the fence.

“The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) will act forcefully against any terrorist activity and will operate to prevent attacks against Israelis,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

The protests are scheduled to culminate on Tuesday, the day Palestinians mourn as the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe” when, in 1948, hundreds of thousands of them were driven out of their homes or fled the fighting around Israel’s creation.

Photo: Palestinian demonstrators at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Singing Washington protesters

In Washington, about 100 protesters from the ‘IfNotNow’ movement blocked Pennsylvania Avenue, which links the White House and the white-domed Capitol, for about two hours in front of the Trump International Hotel to denounce President Donald Trump’s order moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border.

"Jewish future demands Palestinian freedom" Video here 1:36

The Washington protest is the second against the Gaza violence by IfNotNow, which urges U.S. Jewish groups to end their support of Israel’s policies toward the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Reuters reported. Thirty-seven IfNotNow protesters were arrested in six cities last month, the group said.

(With inputs from Reuters)