Israel’s security forces killed at least 55 Palestinians protesting the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday. Another 1,200 were injured in demonstrations in the Gaza Strip.
It was the most violent day in the region since the conflict between Hamas and Israel in 2014.
Gaza protesters set fire to tires, dropped incendiary bombs and stones at Israeli troops across the border. The Israeli army, justifiably criticized internationally for using excessive force against unarmed demonstrators, claimed Hamas attempted to carry out bombings and fire attacks under the cover of the protests and released a video of protesters ripping parts of the barbed wire fence.
“What we saw today was unprecedented violence along the fence,” said Ronen Manelis, Israel’s military spokesman. “We are protecting the citizens of Israel. We are defending our homes.”
The protests, which last for more than a month, also call for an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip. The transfer of the US embassy, however, put more fuel to the fire in the demonstrations.
There was virtually no mention, as to be expected, of the violence in Gaza at the inauguration ceremony of the new embassy, a renovated consular building located just 80 kilometers away from the murders. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the event.
Jared Kushner, a Zionist, Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser to the Middle East, was the head of the US delegation with his wife and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and four Republican senators. Republican super-giver Sheldon Adelson was also present – along with evangelical pastors Robert Jeffress and John Hagee.
“A great day for Israel!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Israel annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem in 1967 – a move not recognized by the international community. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, angered by the ceremony at the embassy, said he would “not accept” any peace agreement proposed by the Trump government.
The Palestinian president also called on the international community to condemn the massacres carried out by Israeli troops in Gaza.