Gaza braces for protests and funerals a day after at least 58 Palestinians killed by Israeli troops

Gaza braces for protests and funerals a day after at least 58 Palestinians killed by Israeli troopsAt least 55 killed in bloodiest day in Gaza since 2014 Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attend opening of Jerusalem embassy Donald Trump praises embassy opening as a 'great day for Israel' Bloody protests on the Gaza border will only buy time for Hamas in the sidelined Palestinian cause Gaza is braced for fresh protests against Israel as the first funerals are expected to be held for 58 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces on Monday, the deadliest day since the end of the 2014 Gaza conflict. Tuesday is the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians call the Nakba, or Catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were expelled or fled amid the creation of Israel in 1948. Weeks of angry protests were further enflamed on Monday by the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. While Ivanka Trump and other American dignitaries gathered in the afternoon sun to celebrate the embassy opening, the Gaza border was transformed into a scene of fire and chaos as tens of thousands of protesters faced Israeli snipers.  Israel’s military said that it opened fire to stop Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, from using the protests as a distraction to break through the border fence and carry out attacks inside Israel.  Palestinians said the overwhelming majority of those killed were unarmed demonstrators while the Palestinian Authority accused Israel of carrying out “a terrible massacre” and called for international intervention to stop the killing.  Despite the bloodshed, US president Donald Trump hailed the day as “a great day for Israel” and said he believed his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would ultimately help forge peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  “For many years we failed to acknowledge the obvious. The plain reality that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem,” Mr Trump said in a video played at the ceremony. “Our greatest hope is for peace. The US remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement.” Downing Street said the embassy opening was "unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region” and many Arab and Muslim countries strongly condemned both the US and Israel. What a great day for the great American-Israeli alliance �������� צילום: אבי אוחיון, לע״מ— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 14, 2018 In a speech in London the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan also criticised the embassy opening. "The United States has chosen to be a part of the problem rather than the solution with its latest step and has lost its mediating role in the peace process”  The UK’s Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, said: “The violence today in Gaza and the West Bank has been shocking. The loss of life and the large number of injured Palestinians is tragic, and it is extremely worrying that the number of those killed continues to rise. “Such violence is destructive to peace efforts. We have been clear that the UK supports the Palestinians’ right to protest, but these protests must be peaceful. “It is deplorable that extremist elements may have been seeking to exploit these protests for their own violent purposes. We will not waver from our support for Israel’s right to defend its borders. But the large volume of live fire is extremely concerning. We continue to implore Israel to show greater restraint. Palestinians run for cover as tear gas rains down near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip Credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP “The UK remains committed to a two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital. All sides now need to show real leadership and courage, promote calm, refrain from inflaming tensions further, and show with renewed urgency that the path to a two-state solution is through negotiation and peace.” Raj Shah, the White House deputy press secretary, pointed the finger at Hamas and said “Israel has the right to defend itself”.  Mr Shah said in a press briefing: “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response.” He later added: “This is a gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt. I think the Israeli government has spent weeks trying to handle this without violence.” Palestinian protesters carry a man wounded during demonstrations near the border Credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images Palestinian health officials said 58 people were killed along the Gaza border, including six children under the age of 18. The youngest fatality appeared to be a 14-year-old boy named Ezzaldeen al-sammak. More than 1,200 others were shot and wounded during Monday’s protests, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Around 100 Palestinians have now been killed in Gaza since protesters began a series of marches six weeks ago demanding the “Right of Return” – the right for Palestinians to go back to their forefathers’ homes in what is today Israel. Around 40,000 protesters gathered at 13 different locations along the barbwire fence which separates Israeli from Gaza, according to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), a far larger crowd than seen previously. U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem will be covered live on @FoxNews & @FoxBusiness. Lead up to 9:00 A.M. (eastern) event has already begun. A great day for Israel!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2018 The IDF said it opened fire to prevent to stop the crowd from bursting through the fence. While the fence was damaged in places, no Palestinians came through. “We do not target anyone who does not pose a threat, either by trying to tear down the fence or running into Israel,” said Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman.  Human Rights Watch criticised Israel for using live rounds when there was no immediate threat to Israeli troops or civilians and said the policy had “resulted in a bloodbath that anyone could have foreseen”.  Several Palestinian journalists were reportedly shot while covering the demonstrations. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump attend the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem Credit:  MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP Israel carried out a series of airstrikes on Hamas positions in response what it said were Hamas activities along the border, but the majority of the Palestinian fatalities were caused by sniper fire. The IDF said it had opened fire on three “terrorist squads” of Hamas operatives who were carrying guns and explosives and trying to breach the fence.   One Israeli soldier was lightly injured by a rock or a piece of shrapnel. The US embassy opening has been welcomed by Israelis Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, said that the protests would continue on Tuesday. “We say clearly today to all the world that the peaceful march of our people lured the enemy into shedding more blood,” he said.  The idea of the weekly marches were originally conceived by independent Palestinian activists but Hamas quickly put its organisational muscle behind them. The Islamist group is struggling with widespread discontent over the humanitarian situation in Gaza but lacks the military strength to confront Israel and so has embraced the idea of large scale demonstrations.   Palestinians carry an injured protestor near the Gaza-Israel border at Khan Yunis Credit: Mustafa Hassona/ Anadolu Few of the speakers at the embassy ceremony made any mention of the violence in Gaza even as television networks carried the two events simultaneously in a jarring split screen.   "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,” said Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law and point man on Middle East peace, in one of the few references to the situation in Gaza.  Smoke billows from the Israeli side after a kite loaded with a molotov cocktail crossed the border between Israel and the Gaza strip Credit:  MOHAMMED ABED/AFP   6:08PM Benjamin Netanyahu is having a good day What a great day for the great American-Israeli alliance �������� צילום: אבי אוחיון, לע״מ— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 14, 2018 Mr Netanyahu sent a further tweet in Hebrew which translates as "Each country must protect its borders. Hamas' terrorist organisation states that it intends to destroy Israel and sends thousands to breach the border fence to realise this goal. We will continue to act firmly to protect our sovereignty and our citizens." 5:01PM Death toll in Gaza rises to 52 Gaza health officials say a total of 52 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,200 wounded by Israeli fire, Agence France-Presse reports.   4:48PM Theresa May calls for 'calm and restraint' The prime minister's spokesman put out the following statement:  "We are concerned by the reports of violence and loss of life in Gaza. We urge calm and restraint to avoid actions destructive to peace efforts. "The prime minister had made her views clear in December that we disagreed with the decision (to move the US embassy). We believe it's unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region." 4:46PM An update from Raf Sanchez:   Israeli military is doing a briefing now on #Gaza. They say so far no Palestinians have made it through the fence into Israel. They also estimate that at the peak there were 40,000 people in the crowds (crowds are getting smaller now).— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) May 14, 2018 Israel says one Israeli soldier has been lightly wounded from shrapnel during today's clashes. They say it's not clear what caused the injury, possibly an explosion from an IED. IDF says today has been an "unprecedented level of violence"on the border. An IDF spokesperson not giving any ground on the levels of Palestinian fatalities from live fire. "We do not target anyone who does not pose a threat, either by trying to tear down the fence or run into Israel."   4:41PM Netanyahu: 'A great day for Israel, a great day for America.' And a great day for Israel's long-serving right-wing prime minister , who has made his own close relationship with the US part of his political brand.   4:36PM 'Our greatest hope is for peace' A highlight from Donald Trump's video address at the US embassy opening ceremony in Jerusalem this afternoon.    4:31PM France urges Israel to show 'restraint' France's Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian calls for Israeli authorities to control its use of violence against  Palestinian demonstrators: "France calls on all actors to show responsibility to prevent a news escalation and calls on the Israeli authorities to exercise discernment and restraint in the use of force that must be strictly proportionate," he said.   Mr Le Drian has also condemned the U.S embassy move to Jerusalem as a violation of International law and of the UN Security Council resolutions.  Still no word from Boris Johnson on Britain's position… 4:18PM Israel says it hit seven Hamas targets with air and tank fire A short while ago, an IAF fighter jet struck 5 Hamas terror organization targets in a military training facility in northern Gaza— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 14, 2018 4:13PM Gaza authorities say 43 dead Health authorities in Gaza have released a statement saying that 43 people have been killed and another 1960 have been wounded so far.  Of the 43 victims, at least six were below the age of 18, including one female.  At least 200 of the wounded were below the age of 18, 78 were women, and 11 were journalists. Thirty-nine of them are in a critical condition.  4:08PM UK 'saddened' by violence,  urges restraint Alistair Burt, the foreign office minister for the Middle East, is the first British minister to speak publicly about today's developments: Extremely saddened by loss of life in Gaza today. Concerned peaceful protests are being exploited by extremist elements. Urge restraint in use of live fire. Violence is destructive to peace efforts. UK remains committed to a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital.— Alistair Burt (@AlistairBurtUK) May 14, 2018  No comment from Boris Johnson so far… 4:02PM Pompeo: US remains committed to comprehensive peace Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of State, has released the following statement: Today I am proud to celebrate the opening of the United States Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem.  This significant event fulfills a promise made by President Trump.  As he proclaimed on December 6, 2017, “Seventy years ago, the United States, under President Truman, recognized the State of Israel.  Since then, the State of Israel has made its capital in Jerusalem — the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. It is therefore appropriate for the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” We remain committed to advancing a lasting and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I am delighted to have visited Israel on my first trip overseas as Secretary of State.  I look forward to returning soon to visit our new U.S. embassy and Ambassador Friedman in Jerusalem. 4:01PM Protests near new US embassy site There has been some pushing and shoving in Jerusalem as Palestinian and leftist Israel groups protest against the embassy opening.  NOW: Israeli police continue to hit and push protesters outside of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. (From @ATLCol)— Joshua Leifer (@joshualeifer) May 14, 2018   3:59PM Amnesty warns Gaza hospitals struggling to cope Palestinians carry a protestor injured near the Gaza-Israel border at Rafah Credit: Rahim Khatib/Anadolu Agency Amnesty International has warned that Gaza medical services are at "breaking point." "The already weakened hospital and healthcare system deals with almost 2000 injured in a single day, over 900 from live ammunition. Health authorities in #Gaza appeal to the international community for assistance," the group said.  The Ministry of Health in Gaza has called for patients requiring complex surgery to be transferred to specialist hospitals in Egypt.  3:49PM More on the casualties in Gaza Palestinian health ministry has published what it says are the names and ages of the 43 dead so far. The youngest is a 14-year-old boy, the oldest is a 39-year-old man.— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) May 14, 2018   3:45PM US has foreited role in peace process – Palestinian Authority  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeineh says:  "With this step, the US administration has cancelled its role in the peace process and has insulted the world, the Palestinian people and the Arab and the Islamic nation and it has created incitement and instability." 3:43PM White House: Embassy move does not affect stance on status of Jerusalem The White has issued a note on the embassy opening that says President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “does not mean the United States has taken a position on final status negotiations” in relation to Jerusalem. That doesn't seem to be how Benjamin Netanyahu sees things. As he made clear today, he (and Israeli law) sees Jerusalem as the "undivided" capital of Israel – and he seems to see today as recognition of that.  Officially, the international community support a two state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital of Israel and a Palestinian state. I can only imagine what Presidents Obama, Bush & Clinton are thinking right now as they watch the deadly consequences of their inaction, lopsided policy and neglect in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a meaningful way. In the MidEast, there are no do-overs. #gaza— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) May 14, 2018   3:30PM The ceremony is over It is official: the United States now has an embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. In the meantime: At least 41 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in protests on the Gaza border Israel has conducted airstrikes against alleged Hamas positions in Gaza The death toll makes it the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 war Protests continue in the West Bank and East Jerusalem Turkey, Iran, and the Arab League lead criticism of the Embassy move     3:18PM Netanyahu: 'A great day for Israel, a great day for America.' Raf Sanchez has this update from Netanyahu's speech today: “Our brave soldiers are protecting the borders of Israel as we speak today. We salute them all. And the members of security services, the Shin Bet, the Mossad, we salute you all.” “Thank you President Trump for having the courage to keep your promises.”  “This is a great day for Israel, it’s a great day for America, it’s a great day of our fantastic partnership but I believe it’s also a great day for peace. The truth and peace are interconnected, a peace that is built on lies will crash on the rocks of Middle East realities. You can only build peace on truth. And the truth is that Jerusalem has been always will be the capital of the Jewish people and the capital of Jewish state. Truth, peace and justice, this is what we have and believe in.”    3:14PM Israel launches airstrikes in Gaza Israel's air force says it has hit a Hamas base in the Gaza Strip: "A fighter jet struck five terrorist targets in a military training facility belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the northern Gaza Strip," a military statement said. "The strike was conducted in response to the violent acts of the last few hours being carried out by Hamas along the security fence." Today has seen the worst violence in Gaza since the war between Israel and Hamas there in 2014.  3:13PM Protests reported in Jerusalem  Videos are emerging of what appear to be protests in East Jerusalem against the opening of the embassy.  There have also been protests across the West Bank today, though they have not been marred by the bloody violence on the border with Gaza.  Protests happening now at #USEmbassyJerusalem. 300-400 people said to be taking part. Source taking part said police are hitting back people with sticks. #القدس_عاصمة_فلسطين_الأبدية— Gemma Fox (@gemmafoxTDS) May 14, 2018   3:10PM Netanyahu: "Thanks for having the courage to keep your promises" and says the president has "made history Bibi signs off: "God Bless America, and God bless Jerusalem, the eternal undivided capital of Israel!" 3:07PM Netanyahu on his family history: Bibi says when he was a kid this neighbourhood was exposed to Jordanian sniper fire. "That was then, this is now! Today the embassy of the most powerful nation on earth, our greatest ally, the United States of America, today its embassy opened here!"— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) May 14, 2018   3:06PM Netanyahu: We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay Netanyahu describes how he used to play as a kid near the site of the embassy, and had to be careful because it was a front line and there were snipers nearby. 'What a difference!' he exclaims. He goes on to list the history of Jerusalem since King David captured it from the Philistines up to its capture by Israeli forces in 1967.  "Our brave soldiers are protecting the borders of Israel as we speak today," he goes on.  Israeli soldiers have shot at least 41 people dead in protests on the Gaza border today.  3:01PM Benjamin Netanyahu: 'what a glorious moment' Israeli's right-wing prime minister has always traded on his personally close relationship with the US, and the past week has brought two major political victories – he's secured a US embassy move to Jerusalem and persuaded Donald Trump to scrap the Iran deal.  "We have no better friends" he says to the White House delegation.  2:57PM More from Kushner: "Israel has been a responsible custodian of Jerusalem and has kept these [holy] sites open to all."  "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." 2:53PM No shortage of irony   Kushner: "By moving our embassy to Jerusalem we have showed the world once again that the United States can be trusted." This is a week after Donald Trump tore up the Iran nuclear deal.— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) May 14, 2018   2:52PM Whoops and cheers for Donald Trump scrapping the Iran deal Mr Kushner drives the crowd in Jerusalem wild by saying: "Donald Trump recognized another truth and withdrew from the dangerous, flawed, and one-sided Iran deal." Another big cheer for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton – noted Iran hawks also credited with scrapping the deal.  2:48PM Jared Kushner: Israel and the US bound by values Jared Kushner takes the podium on behalf of Donald Trump, who didn't make it to Jerusalem himself, and thanks US congressmen and his wife Ivanka Trump for making the day possible. He goes on to praise common US-Israeli values:  "The United States stands with Israeli because we both believe in freedom." Mr Kushner is meant to be brokering a new peace plan to end the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That plan still hasn't yet seen the light of day, though we were expecting something to be announced in January.  2:43PM Amnesty International condemns 'abhorrent violation of international law' in Gaza We are witnessing an abhorrent violation of Int law and human rights. 38 confirmed dead, including children/minors, with close to 2000 people injured in #Gaza . Many are reporting injuries to the head and chest. Over 500 injured with live ammunition. This horror must end now.— amnestypress (@amnestypress) May 14, 2018   2:41PM 'Big day' Big day for Israel. Congratulations!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2018   2:40PM Trump: 'our greatest hope is for peace' Some more quotes from Donald Trump's speech, from our man in Jerusalem Raf Sanchez: "Our greatest hope is for peace. The US remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement and we continue to support the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including at the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif."  "Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like any other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Yet for many years we failed to acknowledge the obvious. The plain reality that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem. " "This city and this entire nation is a testimony to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people. The US will always be a great friend of Israel and a partner in the cause of freedom and peace." The United States will always be a great friend of Israel and a partner in the cause of freedom and peace. We wish Ambassador Friedman good luck as he takes up office in this beautiful Jerusalem embassy. We extend a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians, and to all of their neighbours. May there be peace, may God bless this embassy, may God bless all who serve there and may god bless the United States of America ." 2:38PM Death toll in Gaza reaches 41 as UN expresses concern  Palestinian health authorities say the number of people killed by Israeli troops in protests on the Gaza border has reached 41.  Meanwhile, Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General, has express concerns about the on going violence.  "I'm particularly worried about the news coming from Gaza with the high number of people killed," he said.   2:34PM Iran's Zarif: embassy move is a "day of shame" A reminder that the controversial embassy move comes amid a fraught confrontation between Israel, the US, and Iran. The Islamic Republic's Foreign minister Javad Zarif is not pulling any punches:  Israeli regime massacres countless Palestinians in cold blood as they protest in world's largest open air prison. Meanwhile, Trump celebrates move of U.S. illegal embassy and his Arab collaborators move to divert attention. A day of great shame.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 14, 2018   2:31PM Trump: US remains committed to peace.  In a video address to the opening ceremony, Donald Trump has said the US remains committed to peace in the middle east. "Congratulations, its been a long time coming," Mr Trump said in the address. He added that the opening was ahead of schedule.  "The US remains fully committed to facilitating a peace agreement and the status quo at the city's holy sites including the Temple Mount." "We extend a hand of friendship to Israel and the Palestinians," he said. "May there be peace." 2:25PM Donald Trump 'on the right side of history…and God.' David Jeffress, Dallas-based pastor invited to bless the new embassy, used his address not only to praise the US-Israel relationship, but to thank God for giving America its current president.  President Trump, he said, is "not only on the right side of hisotry, but more importantly on the right side of you," he said in a trembling voice.  Pastor Jeffress is a controversial choice for the address. He has previously called Islam 'a heresy from the pit of hell." 2:21PM US opens new embassy in Jerusalem David M Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, has declared the new embassy open at a ceremony in Jerusalem.  President Donald Trump was given a standing ovation when Mr Friedman mentioned him, and drew cheers when he referred to the embassy's location as "Jerusalem, Israel".  Earlier in the day, violent clashes erupted along the Gaza Strip's border, leaving 37 Palestinians dead from Israeli fire and hundreds wounded in the conflict's bloodiest day in years.  

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