US embassy opening in Jerusalem, killings and outrage


JERUSALEM: The opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, after Washington recognised the disputed city as Israel’s capital, sparked deadly demonstrations in Gaza in which Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinians.

Here is an overview.

– Bloodbath –

Hours before the embassy’s controversial opening Monday, tens of thousands of protesters gather at the Gaza-Israel border, defying Israeli warnings to keep away.

The border had been a flashpoint for deadly demonstrations that began on March 30, with some protesters attempting to breach the fence as part of demands that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their homes now inside Israel.

Clashes quickly flare and Israeli soldiers positioned on the other side of the barrier open fire.

By the end of Monday, 59 Palestinians have been killed, most of them by Israeli snipers.

At least 2,400 are wounded.

A top official from Gaza’s ruling Islamist movement Hamas says most of those killed are its members.

– ‘Massacre’ –

An eight-month-old baby dies overnight after inhaling teargas, marking the deadliest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority condemns the “terrible massacre” and calls for “immediate international intervention”.

European nations call for calm and Amnesty International condemns the “abhorrent violation” of human rights.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defends the use of force.

“Every country has the obligation to defend its borders,” he says on Twitter, accusing Hamas of inciting the protesters.

“Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response,” US President Donald Trump’s administration adds.

– The embassy opens –

The embassy is officially opened when Trump’s daughter Ivanka unveils a plaque and a seal.

Trump hails it as a “great day for Israel” and says in a video message: “Our greatest hope is for peace.”

For Israel, the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv formally recognises all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a crushing blow to Palestinians who see the city’s east as their capital.

– Investigations demanded –

Protests continue on the Gaza border with less intensity on Tuesday, with another two Palestinians killed.

Calls mount for an enquiry into the violence, with the Arab League urging the International Criminal Court to investigate “the crimes of the Israeli occupation”.

Turkey, whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused Israel of “state terror” and “genocide”, tells the Israeli ambassador to leave temporarily.

Israel responds by expelling the Turkish consul, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses Hamas of deliberately putting children in the line of fire.

– US support –

US ambassador Nikki Haley defends Israel at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, saying its forces had acted with restraint in the face of provocation by Hamas.

The US State Department says Hamas is using the unveiling of the American embassy as an “excuse” to encourage violence.

On Wednesday, Guatemala also inaugurates its Israel embassy in Jerusalem.

The next day the Israeli army carries out strikes against Hamas, saying it is responding to gunfire against soldiers stationed along the border and the town of Sderot, near Gaza.

– UN probe –

The Arab League on Thursday calls for an international probe into alleged crimes by Israeli forces.

On Friday Kuwait submits a draft UN resolution| calling for an “international protection mission”.

In Geneva the UN Human Rights Council votes to send an a team of international war crimes investigators to Gaza. Israel condemns its “hypocrisy”.

Erdogan hosts Muslim leaders for a summit in Istanbul, where thousands mass in support of the Palestinians.