US embassy opening in Jerusalem marred by Gaza protests

UPDATE 2 — 5/17, 7:51 a.m. EDT:  Two days after violent clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters left 60 dead, Israeli warplanes attacked suspected Hamas military targets in northern Gaza.

Israel said it took the action in response to heavy machine gun fire which targeted a building in Sderot, a city in southern Israel.

Israeli Defense Forces announced aircraft struck several targets, including a Hamas military compound and a weapons production facility.

 

UPDATE — 5/16, 8:50 a.m. EDT: The U.N. announced late Tuesday that at least 60 Palestinians were killed Monday by IDF during protests along the Gaza Strip.

Speaking earlier in the day in front of the U.N. Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley defended the Trump administration’s decision to move America’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem and denied it had anything to do with protests turned deadly earlier in the week.

Both Haley and the U.S. State Department have blamed Hamas for instigating Monday’ riots. 

 

Violent clashes broke out Monday between Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian protesters demonstrating against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

The protests occurred along the security fence separating the Israeli-Gaza border.

At least 58 Palestinians are reported killed and another 2,200 have been injured in the deadliest clashes since the 2014 Gaza war.

palestinian protests gaza strip jerusalem embassy israel map

According to reports, over 40,000 Palestinian protesters took part in demonstrations at 13 locations along the Gaza-Israel border security fence.

The IDF stated the clashes began as Palestinians set fire to tires and under cover of smoke began hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at IDF positions on the Israeli side of the security gate.

Responding to the attacks, the IDF fired at protesters, killing 58.  Hamas, which operates Palestinian health services, said children were among the dead.

Similarly, the Israeli air force also conducted air sorties in northern Gaza with support for Israeli armored vehicles on the ground.

Although President Trump declined to attend the opening of the new diplomatic offices, he celebrated the opening of the building, which fell on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, in a video address.

Trump concluded his remarks with a vow to remain “committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement.”

While Palestinian officials declared Israeli actions a “massacre,” the White House condemned the protests, blamed Sunni fundamentalists, and in a statement said the violence “rests squarely with Hamas.”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters the administration supports “Israel’s right to defend itself,” and blasted the violence as a cynical exploitation of the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Condemnation of the violence was swift: U.K., France and Germany appealed for calm; Russia expressed concern for wider violence; and Turkey recalled it envoys from both the U.S. and Israel.

Monday’s clashes revolved around the permanent movement of the location of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

A move the Palestinians condemned over what they say is a break in a decades-long U.S. policy and a threat to a lasting solution to a peaceful solution in the Middle East, Palestinian officials claim East Jerusalem the future capital of any Palestinian state.

 

[The Guardian] [Business Insider] [RT] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy AFP via The Himalayan Times]