Israeli soldiers killed 41 Palestinians protesting along the border fence in Gaza and injured more than 1,600 on Monday, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. This marks the highest death toll on a single day since the 2014 war.
Palestinians throughout Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem were urged to protest President Donald Trump’s controversial and unilateral decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday. More than 15,000 people marched along the fence in Gaza, according to Haaretz.
The opening of the new embassy falls on Israel’s independence day, and one day before Palestinians mark Nakba Day (or day of catastrophe), recalling the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland.
Monday also marks the deadliest day for Palestinians since the start of their “Great March to Return” protests began on March 30 at what Israel and the U.S. recognize as a border between Israeli and Palestinian territories.
Human Rights group Amnesty International has condemned Israel’s violent response to the protesters, noting that children are among the dead:
We are witnessing an abhorrent violation of international law & human rights in #Gaza. 38 confirmed dead, including 6 children, with close to 2000 people injured. Many are reporting injuries to the head and chest. Over 500 injured with live ammunition. This must end immediately.
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) May 14, 2018
Reuters noted that among the dead were also a medic and a man in a wheelchair, who had been earlier photographed using a slingshot. Israeli forces, meanwhile, said that three of those who were killed on Monday had planted explosives near a fence along the southern Gaza strip.
Ivanka Trump, her husband senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah, and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely attend the official reception on the occasion of the opening of the US Embassy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, on May 13, 2018. (CREDIT: Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)
The U.N. Security Council condemned Israel’s response to the protests. The United States, however, blocked a resolution urging restraint.
President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, a contested city that is the subject of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, was strongly condemned by the majority of United Nations in December. Member states asked that the decision be reversed.
Additional protests are planned elsewhere in the world on Monday by a number of groups, including IfNotNow in the United States, which includes young Jews and Rabbinical students.
While members of the president’s family — including his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner — are attending the opening of the new embassy, which is in a temporary location pending the construction of a permanent facility, Trump himself will not be attending the opening, as he had hinted he might do in late April.
He did, however, issue a tweet early on Monday:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2018
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a move seen by the international community as legitimizing Israel’s claim on the city. It has also subverted the role of the United States as an impartial arbitrator in negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the day.