Israeli forces opened fire on demonstrators in Gaza on Monday, killing 52 Palestinians and injuring more than 2,400 people protesting on Monday, May 14, but US and Israeli officials celebrated the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Gaza’s Ministry of Health reported that the Palestinians were killed and many wounded in protests in Gaza and West Bank fell on the border on what became the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 war, over moving US embassy to Jerusalem.
Protests quieted down in Gaza but they are expected to return tomorrow, a significant day for the Great March of Return movement, a Palestinian group that has held rallies at the border since 30 March.
At the rallies, demonstrators called for the right to return to homes they were expelled from in 1948.
The Great March of Return movement culminates on Tuesday, 15 May, which marks what Palestinians call the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands were forced out of their homes or fled amid the fighting that accompanied the creation in 1948 of the state of Israel after the end of the British Mandate.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel acted in self-defence in by firing at protesters on the border.
“Every country has an obligation to defend its borders,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter. “The Hamas terrorist organisation declares it intends to destroy Israel and sends thousands to breach the border fence in order to achieve this goal. We will continue to act with determination to protect our sovereignty and citizens.”
However, President Donlad Trump did not attend the embassy dedication ceremony, but his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, a senior advisor to the president, went in his place. Kushner made a rare public address and said the opening of the embassy was an acknowledgement of the truth that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
Senior US officials, including President Donald Trump, have not mentioned the protests in communications celebrating the embassy opening. “Big day for Israel. Congratulations!” the president said on Twitter.
US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo also ignored the deadly protests while declaring the US was committed to advancing peace between Israel and Palestine.
Meanwhile, United Nations human rights experts urged Israel to halt excessive force against Palestinian protesters and Amnesty International accused Israel of violating international law.
Foreign ministries in the UK, France and Egypt expressed concern about the the violence. UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesperson said: “We urge calm and restraint to avoid actions destructive to peace efforts.”