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As US Opens New Embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli Soldiers Open Fire on Gaza Protests, Killing Dozens

There has been strong opposition to the moving of the US embassy.

A picture taken on May 14, 2018, from the southern Israeli kibbutz of Nahal Oz across the border with the Gaza Strip shows tear gas canisters launched by Israeli forces falling down on Palestinian protesters gathering along the border fence with Israel. Dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on May 14 as tens of thousands protested the US transfer of its embassy to Jerusalem.

Israeli forces have killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds in Palestinian protests against the new US embassy, which was officially moved to Jerusalem Monday.

The death toll was climbing rapidly Monday morning, with news outlets including Haaretz and CNN stating that at least 41 have been killed, and Reuters reporting that about 900 Palestinians had been injured including 450 by live bullets.

A local journalist posted a video on Twitter showing Israeli troops firing indiscriminately at unarmed protesters.

B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, condemned Israel for its violent response to the protests, which follow weeks of demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza border.

“The demonstrations held in Gaza today came as no surprise. Israel had plenty of time to come up with alternate approaches for dealing with the protests, apart from firing live ammunition,” B’Tselem said in a statement. “The fact that live gunfire is once again the sole measure that the Israeli military is using in the field evinces appalling indifference towards human life on the part of senior Israeli government and military officials.”

The opening ceremony of the US embassy — which President Donald Trump decided to move to Jerusalem months ago over the objections of Palestinians, the United Nations, numerous international leaders, and 63 percent of the American public — comes one day before Palestinians mark the 70th anniversary of Nakba, in memory of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were expelled from their land by Israel. Palestinians have held protests at the border of Gaza and Israel since late March, with Israeli troops killing dozens of people and wounding hundreds.

Human rights groups and a number of European leaders repeated their strong opposition to the moving of the US embassy, which Palestinians view as recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

“The Trump administration may portray this action as simply hauling desks from one building to another. But in reality this move intentionally undermines Palestinian rights and in effect condones decades of violations by Israel, including the creation of illegal settlements, which constitute war crimes,” said Raed Jarrar, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that the move “is inflaming already a very tense situation, and the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians,” while Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said, “We don’t consider it a wise decision to move the embassy.”

But the European Union was kept from officially condemning Trump’s decision on Monday, as the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania blocked a statement censuring of the new US embassy.

B’Tselem called for “an immediate halt to the killing of Palestinian demonstrators,” and said, “If the relevant officials do not issue an order to stop the lethal fire, the soldiers in the field must refuse to comply with these manifestly unlawful open-fire orders.”

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