Tension across Gaza, Mideast: What we know

The US officially relocat...

Posted: May 15, 2018 7:18 AM
Updated: May 15, 2018 7:18 AM

The US officially relocated its embassy to Jerusalem on Monday, formally upending decades of American foreign policy in a move that was met with clashes and protests along the Gaza-Israeli border.

Here is what we know:

Casualties

At least 55 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during Monday clashes, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Live updates

This is the deadliest day there since the 2014 Gaza War.

More than 2,700 people suffered injuries, according to the Palestinian officials.

Israeli soldiers have killed more than 100 people since the latest wave of protests began in March, according to a CNN count based on the Palestinian Ministry of Health figures.

The scene

Around 35,000 people -- who the Israel Defense Forces describes as "violent rioters" -- assembled in 12 locations along the border fence separating Gaza and Israel, according to the IDF.

Thousands more were gathered in a tent city about a kilometer from the border.

The military said protesters threw Molotov cocktails, burned tires and threw stones at Israeli soldiers along the fence.

An Israeli jet struck five targets in a "military training facility belonging to Hamas" in northern Gaza on Monday, the Israeli military said.

While Gaza has seen the majority of the violence, protesters are facing off with Israeli authorities in the West Bank as well, but there were no deaths reported there Monday.

The Pentagon, in conjunction with the US State Department, has increased Marine Corps security forces at a number of US embassies in the Middle East and Africa in light of the unrest, according to several military officials.

What they're saying

  • US President Donald Trump gave remarks via a prerecorded video: "Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital, yet for many years, we failed to acknowledge the obvious: the plain reality that Israel's capital is Jerusalem."
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized Israel's actions in Gaza as acts of self-defense against Hamas. "Every country has an obligation to defend its borders," Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced a general strike and, beginning Tuesday, three days of mourning for those killed in Gaza. "Today is one of the most ferocious days our people have seen," he said. "Before we were suffering from illegal Israeli settlements. Now it's another illegal settlement by Israel and the United States."
  • Deputy US Secretary of State John Sullivan, who led the US delegation to the embassy opening in Jerusalem, said, "Gazans should be allowed to protest peacefully." Sullivan further called the violence "horrific" and said of the protesters, "To have them used and provoked for violent purposes by Hamas is despicable."
  • UN Secretary-General Ant-nio Guterres is "profoundly alarmed by the sharp escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory," one of his spokesmen said in a statement.
  • Kuwait has requested a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday to address the situation in the Middle East and Gaza.
  • America can "not be trusted to be fair," and it is unclear where Trump is "taking the world and taking America," Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech in Beirut, Lebanon.
  • There is "no chance" Palestinians will engage in a US-led peace process, said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the United Nations.
  • Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner said, "We believe it is possible for both sides to gain more than they give - so that all people can live in peace - safe from danger, free from fear, and able to pursue their dreams."
  • "We remain committed to advancing a lasting and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
  • "Every nation should have the right to choose its capital. I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
  • The United States' decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem brings Israel closer to "annihilation," a high-ranking Iranian official said.
  • White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said the violence doesn't hurt the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
  • The UN Human Rights chief called for an end to violent clashes in Gaza, saying in a tweet the killings "must stop now."
  • South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Israel. A statement from the South African Foreign Ministry condemned "the latest violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border."

Background

Trump announced the decision to move the embassy in December, when he formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It marked the fulfillment of a campaign promise he made to the pro-Israel group American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The embassy move is contentious for Palestinians, who hope to claim part of the city as their future capital, and for many in the Arab world, as it is home to some of the holiest sites in Islam. The city also is home to holy sites for Jews and Christians.

In 1995, Congress passed a law requiring America to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but every president since then has declined to make the move, citing national security interests.

The State Department noted that the opening takes place on the 70th anniversary of American recognition of the Israeli state, the day of its founding and a day Palestinians refer to as "The Catastrophe," referring to the hundreds of thousands of people who were expelled from, or fled, their homes during the war that surrounded the foundation of Israel.

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