At least 37 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on Monday during Gaza border clashes, Gaza’s health ministry said, bringing the total number of Palestinian deaths to at least 60 since the border protests began in late March.
With their anger fueled by the embassy opening, protesters set tyres on fire, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air at several spots along the border, while the Israeli military said protesters assaulted the border fence. By midafternoon, at least 16 Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed while over 500 were wounded by Israeli fire, Palestinian health officials said.
In the West Bank, several thousand people gathered in the centre of Ramallah, while hundreds marched to the Qalandiya crossing on the outskirts of Jerusalem, where protesters threw stones at Israeli troops.
The protest in Gaza was to be the biggest yet in a weeks-long campaign against a decade-old blockade of the territory. The march was also directed at the inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem later Monday. The relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv, a key campaign promise of President Donald Trump, has infuriated the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as a future capital.
"A great day for Israel," Trump tweeted early Monday.
Monday marked the biggest showdown in recent weeks between Israel's military and Gaza's Hamas rulers along the volatile border.
It is the culmination of a campaign, led by the Islamic militant Hamas and fueled by despair among Gaza's two million people, to break the decade-old border blockade of the territory by Israel and Egypt. Since weekly border marches began in late March, 58 Palestinian protesters have been killed and more than 2,300 wounded by Israeli army fire.
Hamas leaders have suggested a border breach is possible Monday, while Israel has warned it would prevent protesters from breaking through the barrier at any cost.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said the army had bolstered its front-line forces along the border, but also set up additional "layers" of security in and around neighbouring communities to defend Israeli civilians in case of a mass breach. He said there already had been several "significant attempts" to break through the fence.
"Even if the fence is breached, we will be able to protect Israeli civilians from attempts to massacre or kidnap or kill them," he said.
(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)
Date created : 2018-05-14