Israeli Prim-Miniester Benjamin Netanyahu declares that the Jewish state is forced to ‘defend its frontiers’ after dozens of protesters die during Gaza’s bloodiest day since the short 2014 war
May 15, 2018 – The Guardian
Gaza has had its bloodiest day in years on Monday after Israeli forces shot and killed 58 Palestinians and wounded at least 1,200 as tens of thousands protested along the frontier against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
The violent scenes on Monday contrasted sharply with the glossy inauguration of Washington’s new mission about 60 miles away in an affluent Jerusalem neighbourhood. The US president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, celebrated the opening to clapping and cheering from American and Israeli VIPs.
In Gaza’s hospitals, dozens of casualties were in a critical condition, and medics said the dead included a 14-year-old boy. There were reports that a man in a wheelchair who had been pictured using a slingshot had also been killed.
The sky was blackened with thick smoke as protesters lit tyres. Intermittent sniper fire was heard and crowds of protesters were seen rushing towards the fence, although Israel’s military said none had managed to breach it.
Fury and desperation at Trump’s December declaration on the embassy helped to ignite the six-week protest movement. To international condemnation, Israeli snipers have regularly fired on demonstrators in past rallies. Monday’s shootings raised the total deaths close to 100 and made it the bloodiest day in the coastal enclave since the 2014 war.
Gaza’s rulers Hamas has fought three conflicts with Israel but say they support peaceful ideals advocated by civilian protest leaders.
Donald Trump, who had tweeted that Monday was a “great day for Israel”, did not attend the embassy opening but spoke in a video message, saying he extended “a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians and to all of their neighbours. May there be peace.”
Amnesty International criticised the bloodshed as “another horrific example of the Israeli military using excessive force and live ammunition in a totally deplorable way”.
At the ceremony in Jerusalem, Washington’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, stood on a stage painted with the US flag and said: “Today’s historic event is attributed to the vision, courage, and moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude: President Donald J Trump.” The crowd cheered and gave a standing ovation.
The only direct reference to the bloodshed came from Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who said: “As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution.”