Deadly Gaza Violence Clouds U.S. Embassy Move: Israel Update
(Bloomberg) -- Thousands of Gaza protesters descended on the border with Israel, leading to deadly Israeli gunfire that cast a pall over President Donald Trump’s contentious inauguration of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. Here are the latest developments, updated throughout the day. (Time-stamps are local time in Israel.)
“March of Return”
The timing of the embassy inauguration was seen by many Palestinians as a provocation, coming a day before they mark the 70th anniversary of the “nakba,” or “catastrophe,” of their displacement by Israel’s birth. Monday’s protests are expected to continue Tuesday. Gazans have been protesting every Friday for more than a month. The “March of Return,” as the weeks-long protest is known, began as an effort by grassroots groups to draw attention to the Palestinians’ demand to return to homes lost in fighting surrounding Israel’s 1948 creation.
U.S. Embassy Move Has Prompted Angry Protests (5:26 p.m.)
The U.S. policy shift was a diplomatic victory for Israeli officials, but a blow to the Palestinians, who see it as undermining their claim to establish a capital in the city’s eastern sector and have been carrying out a campaign of protests against Israel in recent weeks. Gaza protesters, egged on by loudspeakers and transported in buses, streamed to the border on Monday. Israeli forces used live fire. Israel accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover to attack the Jewish state, and has vowed to prevent any attempts to breach the border.
Violence in West Bank (5:21 p.m.)
In the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians gathered in downtown Ramallah to protest U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israel’s killing of demonstrators in Gaza. Hundreds more marched to the Qalandiya crossing between the West Bank and Jerusalem, many throwing stones at Israeli troops. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki called for an international investigation into Israel’s handling of the violence in Gaza.
Split Screen Coverage (5:16 p.m.)
The day’s events produced split-screen cable television coverage in the U.S. showing the ceremony at the new embassy and the fighting in Gaza.
Israeli peace groups condemn Gaza violence (5:14 p.m.)
Israeli peace groups are condemning the government as the Palestinian death toll mounts in Gaza. One of them, B’tselem, issued a statement saying that Israeli political and military leaders have shown “appalling indifference to human life” by firing live ammunition. The group called on Israeli soldiers to refuse open-fire orders from their commanders.
Netanyahu Speaking at U.S. Embassy Ceremony (5:05 p.m.)
Netanyahu switches to Hebrew in his speech to recount how he used to wander in fields in the neighborhood near the embassy as a three year old with his old brother Yoni. Netanyahu, praising Trump for sticking to his promises to move the embassy, said Israel was “here to stay” in Jerusalem. Netanyahu also praised the Israeli soldiers at the Gaza border, where at least 41 Palestinians were killed and hundreds were wounded by live fire on Monday.
Inauguration of U.S. embassy, Jerusalem (4:59 p.m.)
Streets around the Arnona neighborhood where the embassy is located are draped with streamers of alternating American and Israeli flags, with large flags of the two countries hanging from lamp posts. An enormous sign saying: “God Bless President Trump” was draped across the front of one home.
Jared Kushner speaks at U.S. embassy (4:45 p.m.)
Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, says the U.S. is still committed to peace and both sides could gain from a peace agreement. Kushner also said Iran’s aggression threatened people around the world, drawing applause when he mentioned the U.S. decision to withdraw.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks next.
Latest death toll (4:40 p.m.)
The death toll in Gaza has risen to 41 Palestinians dead and hundreds wounded, according to the Gaza health ministry. Palestinian protesters threw rocks, burned tires that created clouds of black smoke and flew kites and balloons fitted with firebombs over the border toward Israel.
Trump Comments (4:35 p.m.)
In a video address, U.S. President Donald Trump affirmed the status quo at Jerusalem holy sites and said the U.S. was committed to facilitating a peace agreement. He also said the Jerusalem embassy move was “a long time coming.”
Latest death toll (4:20 p.m.)
Twenty-eight Palestinians were reported killed by midday, and hundreds were wounded by live fire, the Gaza Health Ministry reported. It was the deadliest single day of confrontations between Israel and Hamas-run Gaza since they warred in 2014.
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