Bravely defiant Palestinians have been protesting the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and that tragically has resulted in one of the bloodiest days in recent memory.
On Monday, Israeli troops killed dozens of Palestinians who were engaged in mass protests along the Gaza border during the embassy opening, The Huffington Post reports.
The relocation of the embassy stems from President Donald Trump’s promise to relocate the embassy after declaring the entire city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, even though Tel Aviv has long been considered so. And Palestinians consider east Jerusalem their capital. So therein lies the controversy.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner attended the inauguration, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heaped praise on the president for, he said:
“…Having the courage to keep your promises.”
“What a glorious day for Israel. We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay.”
Ever the dutiful son-in-law, Kushner told the crowd that “peace is within reach,” CNN reported.
“We believe that it is possible for both sides to gain more than they give so all people can live in peace, safe from danger, free from fear and able to pursue their dreams. I believe peace is in reach if we dare to believe the future can be different from the past. That we are not condemned to relive history, and that the way things were is not how they must forever be.”
The video by the BBC News is a synopsis of Kushner’s remarks.
But 43 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces Monday, including six children and a man in a wheelchair, will never be able to pursue their dreams. At least an additional 2,200 Palestinians were wounded on this day of bloodshed.
This is the highest death toll reported in a single day since the protests began March 30, according to a report from the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Protesters surging into the tens of thousands gathered along the border while small numbers of Palestinians threw rocks and approached the fence, attempting to break through as Israeli snipers waited on the other side.
France and Britain urged Israel to show caution and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the situation “deeply concerned” him.
Other countries were less circumspect in their criticism of the situation. Officials in Turkey characterized the shootings by Israeli forces as a massacre and that was the result of moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
And Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental international organization had this to say:
“The policy of Israeli authorities to fire irrespective of whether there is an immediate threat to life on Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, caged in for a decade and under occupation for a half century, has resulted in a bloodbath that anyone could have foreseen.”
Throughout the day, black smoke from tires set on fire by the demonstrators permeated the air. Armed only with slingshots, the protesters lobbed rocks at Israeli forces who responded in turn with tear gas and blasts of gunfire. The wails of ambulances rent the air and loudspeakers inside Gaza mosques carried the sounds of those mourning their dead during funeral marches.
And some Palestinians, like Ali, for instance, a science teacher who didn’t want his last name used, had a message for Israel:
“Today is the big day when we will cross the fence and tell Israel and the world we will not accept being occupied forever.”
A man in a wheelchair who had used a slingshot and a medic were among the Palestinian dead. The Israeli military said three of 44 who were killed were armed militants attempting to place bombs near the fence. Some demonstrators flew flaming kites, attempting to set bushes on fire to distract Israeli snipers. Hundreds of Palestinians received treatment for inhaling tear gas.
The Israeli military said:
“The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will act forcefully against any terrorist activity and will operate to prevent attacks against Israelis.”
The massacre has drawn criticism from all over the world since the protests began, but despite this, the U.S. and Israel continue to blame Gaza’s ruling Hamas, alleging that Hamas instigated the protests, something the organization denies.
Inside the strip, which is blockaded by Egypt and Israel, two million people are crammed like sardines, but obviously, this is of no concern for the Trump administration or the Israeli government.
The protests are planned to culminate Tuesday, the day Palestinians mourn as “Nakba” (catastrophe) when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes in 1948 to make way for Israel’s creation.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamadallah excoriated the U.S. in a statement Monday, saying it has committed “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.”
The move by the U.S. flouts international law and invites trouble, said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who stated:
“France calls on all actors to show responsibility to prevent a new escalation.”
Britain’s government said it doesn’t plan to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and said it disagrees with the U.S.’s decision to do so. And the Russian government expressed concerns that the embassy move will deepen tensions throughout the Middle East.
It remains to be seen how this tragedy will be played out, but it’s likely more innocent Palestinians will lose their lives fighting for a land that has largely been stolen from them.
Trump and Netanyahu have the blood of these people on their hands.
You can find out more in the video below.
Featured image by TeleSur via YouTube video.