As the United States prepared for the historic opening of its embassy in Jerusalem, thousands of Palestinian protesters flocked to the border at Gaza in massive, violent clashes.
In December, President Donald Trump had ordered that America’s embassy to Israel be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, and Trump administration officials including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were in Jerusalem Monday for the ceremony to mark the opening of the embassy.
At least 37 Palestinians were killed Monday and more than 900 wounded in the protests, Fox News reported. CNN reported that the Gaza Health Ministry said the number of dead was likely to increase and that more than 1,600 people had been injured.
Israel said that despite the fact that 35,000 Palestinians were trying to overwhelm guards at 12 crossings along the Gaza security fence, it would not allow protesters to penetrate the border.
The Israeli Defense Force said three of those killed were armed militants who tried to put bombs near a fence in southern Gaza, Reuters reported.
“The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will act forcefully against any terrorist activity and will operate to prevent attacks against Israelis,” the military said in a statement.
A report in The Washington Post highlighted the violent intentions of the protesters.
“We are excited to storm and get inside,” said Mohammed Mansoura, 23, adding that if he got into Israel he would do “whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones.”
The Post also quoted a protester identified as Khamis as saying he wanted “to get inside and kill.”
While the violence raged, Trump and his administration focused on the historic significance of the move.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2018
“A great day for Israel,” Trump tweeted early Monday.
Mnuchin said the decision to move the embassy was a “national security priority.”
“I’m thrilled to be here on behalf of the president,” Mnuchin said. “It’s a big day, moving the embassy here. Seventy years in the making. We’re thrilled to be here representing the president to do this.”
Trump’s decision to move the embassy was praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but condemned by Palestinian leaders, who contest Israel’s claim to Jerusalem.
“Thank you, President Trump, for your bold decision. Thank you for making the alliance between Israel and the United States stronger than ever,” he said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas used the decision as a reason to break ties with the U.S.
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