58 Palestinians Killed In Protest As U.S. Embassy Is Moved To Jerusalem

It's the bloodiest conflict for Palestine since the 2014 Gaza conflict.

What you need to know
  • More than 50 people were killed as they protested the U.S. Embassy move
  • The Israeli military said it was acting in self-defense
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the embassy move a "glorious day" for Israel

GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israeli troops shot dead dozens of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on Monday as the United States opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, a move that has fueled Palestinian anger and drawn foreign criticism for undermining peace efforts.

It was the bloodiest single day for Palestinians since the Gaza conflict in 2014. Palestinian Health Ministry officials said 58 protesters were killed and more than 2700 injured either by live gunfire, tear gas or other means.

The bloodshed drew calls for restraint from some countries including France and Britain, and stronger criticism from others, with Turkey calling it “a massacre”.

52 protesters were killed on the Gaza border. Image: Reuters.

The Israeli military said it was responding to violence from the protesters to defend Israel’s border.

In contrast to the scenes in Gaza, Israeli dignitaries and guests attended a ceremony in Jerusalem to open the U.S. Embassy following its relocation from Tel Aviv.

The move fulfilled a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump, who in December recognized the holy city as the Israeli capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump for “having the courage to keep your promises”.

“What a glorious day for Israel,” Netanyahu said in a speech. “We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay.”

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians hope to claim East Jerusalem as their capital. Image: Reuters.

Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move that is not recognized internationally, as its “eternal and indivisible capital”.

Most countries say the status of Jerusalem -- a sacred city to Jews, Muslims and Christians -- should be determined in a final peace settlement and that moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal.

Peace talks aimed a finding a two-state solution to the conflict have been frozen since 2014.

Trump, in a recorded message, said he remained committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He was represented at the ceremony by his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, U.S. envoy to the Middle East.

Kushner said it was possible for both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to gain more than give in any peace deal.

“Jerusalem must remain a city that brings people of all faiths together,” he said in a speech.

But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the United States had opened an “American settlement outpost in East Jerusalem”. He called the deaths in Gaza a massacre and announced a general strike on Tuesday.