Israeli forces kill dozens of Palestinians at US embassy protests

Palestinians carry a demonstrator injured during the clashes. (photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP / Getty Images)

Deadliest day in Gaza since 2014 war as US holds ceremony to mark opening of diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.

By Oliver Holmes and Hazem Balousha | The Guardian | May 14, 2018

“I’m here because of our land that we want back. We have nothing to lose. Nobody cares about us. Why should we wait to die slowly?”
— 25-year-old Mohammed Nabieh, a descendant of refugees from a village near the Israeli city of Ashdod

Israeli forces have killed 41 Palestinians and wounded at least 900 in Gaza, health officials said, as troops fired bullets at residents protesting against the Monday opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

Tens of thousands turned out across the coastal enclave in what soon became the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 war. Close to 40 of the casualties were critically injured and the dead included a 14-year-old boy, medics said.

The sky along the frontier was blackened with thick smoke as protesters lit tyres. Intermittent sniper fire was heard and crowds of protesters were seen rushing towards the fence.

Around 60 miles away in an affluent neighborhood of Jerusalem, Washington’s ambassador, David Friedman, stood on a stage painted with the US flag and welcomed a delegation of US and Israeli VIPs, including the president’s daughter, Ivanka.

To international condemnation, Israeli snipers have killed dozens and wounded around 2,000 when firing on demonstrators in past rallies, according to Gaza’s ministry of health. Monday’s shootings raised the total deaths to more than 80.

Q&A: What will US recognition of Jerusalem mean for the peace process?

The peace process has been at death’s door since the former secretary of state John Kerry’s peace mission ended in failure in 2014. But the international community — apart from the US — is united in saying recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is disastrous for any hopes of reviving meaningful talks. The status of Jerusalem is one of the pivotal issues that diplomats and peacemakers have said must be agreed between the two parties in negotiations.

Palestinians will see Trump’s announcement as the end of their hopes and demands for East Jerusalem as a capital of a future independent state. While few want a return to violence, many will feel diplomatic efforts have got them no closer to a state of their own.

The Israeli government will be thrilled. Ever since it captured (and later annexed) East Jerusalem in the 1967 six-day war, Israel has claimed the city as its “eternal and undivided” capital, and has longed for international recognition. Some 200,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements will also celebrate.

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