The United States’ to open the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem on Monday was met with massive protests on the Gaza strip that left dozens of Palestinians dead and thousands wounded, NBC News reports.
The Israeli Defense Forces fired onto protestors who approached the razor-wire barrier situated between the Gaza Strip and Israel. They blamed Hamas for “leading a terrorist operation under the cover of masses of people,” a claim that the White House seems to support.
“We believe that Hamas is responsible for these tragic deaths, that their rather cynical exploitation of the situation is what’s leading to these deaths, and we want them to stop,” White House Deputy Press Secretary, Raj Shah told reporters on Monday.
Tuesday marked the 70th anniversary of “Nakba,” or Catastrophe Day for Palestinians. It’s meant to recognize the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of people removed when Israel was created in 1948. Instead many families were burying the dead, according to NBC News.
In December, the Trump Administration announced that they were moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem breaking with decades of Washington policy. Palestinians also consider Jerusalem their capital.
“Shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire in #Gaza must stop now. The right to life must be respected. Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account. The int'l community needs to ensure justice for victims” – #Zeid. pic.twitter.com/hBb7825Sp8
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) May 14, 2018
Protests over the U.S.’s decision to move the Embassy began March 30 and has left 109 dead and over 12,000 wounded. No Israelis have been killed since the conflict began.
More than 300 women and children were injured, Gaza Health Ministry said. Among the dead from Monday’s conflict was an 8-month old baby girl, who inhaled tear gas.
In Hebrew, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter:
Every country has an obligation to defend its borders. The Hamas terrorist organisation declares it intends to destroy Israel and sends thousands to breach the border fence in order to achieve this goal. We will continue to act with determination to protect our sovereignty and citizens.
Previous presidential administrations had promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem but changed their minds citing that a move would prompt violence in the area.