Photo via iStock/ rrodrickbeiler
Israeli military forces killed at least 52 Palestinian protesters and wounded 2,400 more at the Gaza-Israel border on Monday, while just miles away Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner posed for photos and spoke in celebration of America’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
According to the New York Times, Monday’s violence represented the most deadly day of action since Israeli forces invaded Gaza in 2014, according to reports from Palestinian officials and international medical groups like Doctors Without Borders.
“The fact that live gunfire is once again the sole measure that the Israeli military is using in the field evinces appalling indifference towards human life on the part of senior Israeli government and military officials,” Doctors Without Borders officials told the Times.
Spurred on by Hamas, the de facto government in Gaza, activists on the occupied side of the border barrier have spent the last month and a half gathering at the barbed wire fence to protest Israel’s economic blockade of the war-torn strip of land. As mass groups of Palestinians have attempted to break through the fence and into Israel, the U.S. ally’s military forces have used tear gas, rubber bullets, and lethal force against the protesters. According to accounts from Times reporter Declan Walsh, who was on the ground in Gaza on Sunday, Palestinian protesters were armed with nothing but burning tires, molotov cocktails, and rocks.
On top of the decades-old conflict over land made into the Israeli state after World War II, and Israel's deadly defense of its claimed territory, America’s decision to move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has sparked further protest and violence.
Donald Trump announced the embassy move in December of last year, causing international uproar from U.S. allies and opponents alike, but unprecedented praise from Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu. At Monday’s event officially inaugurating the Jerusalem embassy, Netanyahu commended Trump, while hinting at his support for the lethal violence his army was inflicting upon Palestinian protesters.
“We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay,” Netanyahu said. “We are here in Jerusalem protected by the great soldiers of the army of Israel and our brave soldiers are protecting the border of Israel as we speak today.”
On the other side of the border fence, Palestinian leaders had differing opinions on Trump’s decision.
“Today is a day of sadness,” said Sabri Saidam, the Palestinian minister of education. “It’s a manifestation of the power of America and President Trump in upsetting the Palestinian people and the people who have been awaiting the independence of Palestine for 70 years.”
At the inauguration of the Jerusalem embassy, first daughter Ivanka Trump commended her father’s decision, without any recognition of the violence unfolding less than an hour away from the contested holy land.
“With great joy, I am returning to Jerusalem,” Ivanka wrote in a caption on Instagram. “I am honored to join the distinguished delegation representing President Trump, his Administration, and the American people at this momentous ceremony commemorating the opening of our new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel. We look forward to celebrating Israel’s 70th anniversary and the bright future ahead. We will pray for the boundless potential of the future of the U.S.-Israel alliance, and we will pray for peace.”
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Protests and violence along the Gaza border are expected to accelerate even further on Tuesday, as Palestinians recognize Nakba Day (meaning “day of catastrophe”) ― the 70th anniversary of the displacement of Palestinians from the state now considered Israel.