- Deadliest day in Gaza since 2014 war as US holds ceremony to mark opening of diplomatic mission in Jerusalem
sraeli forces have killed 41 Palestinians and wounded at least 900 in Gaza, health officials said, as troops fired bullets at residents protesting against the Monday opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Tens of thousands turned out across the coastal enclave in what soon became the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 war. Close to 40 of the casualties were critically injured and the dead included a 14-year-old boy, medics said.
The sky along the frontier was blackened with thick smoke as protesters lit tyres. Intermittent sniper fire was heard and crowds of protesters were seen rushing towards the fence.
Around 60 miles away in an affluent neighbourhood of Jerusalem, Washington’s ambassador, David Friedman, stood on a stage painted with the US flag and welcomed a delegation of US and Israeli VIPs, including the president’s daughter, Ivanka.
“Today’s historic event is attributed to the vision, courage, and moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude: President Donald J Trump,” Friedman told the crowed to cheers and a standing ovation.
Trump, who had tweeted that Monday was a “great day for Israel”, did not attend but spoke in a video message, saying he extended “a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians and to all of their neighbours. May there be peace.”
Trump’s December declaration on the embassy helped to ignite a six-week protest movement as Palestinians in Gaza gathered near the Israel border, with groups throwing stonesand vandalising perimeter defences.
To international condemnation, Israeli snipers have killed dozens and wounded around 2,000 when firing on demonstrators in past rallies, according to Gaza’s ministry of health. Monday’s shootings raised the total deaths to more than 80.
Residents ignored warnings from the Israeli military that Palestinians risked their lives by taking part. “To the rioters, you are taking part in violent riots that jeopardise your lives,” the army said in leaflets dropped by jets on Monday. “Save yourselves and prioritise building your future.”
Gaza’s Hamas-led government said it would not stop people from attempting to break the metal fence. Loudspeakers at the frontier called for people to push through, although it was not clear if any succeeded.
Hamas has fought three wars with Israel but says it supports peaceful ideals advocated by civilian leaders of the protest movement.
On Monday, mosques in Gaza called for people to protest as a general strike was observed. Buses picked up residents in the enclave.Black clouds billowed from piles of burning tyres – which organisers say are used as a smokescreen against Israeli snipers. People have been shot tens of metres from the fence.