Fresh protests expected as Palestinians get ready to commemorate 'Nakba'
Following the death of 55 Palestinians at the hands of Israeli forces on Monday, tensions remain high in Gaza as Palestinians get ready to commemorate the 70th anniversary of 'Nakba,' or Catastrophe, that saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced when Israel was created in 1948. Monday's violence, which left 2,700 injured, was the deadliest in Gaza after the 2014 war.
Monday's protests were a culmination of several factors
The Palestinian protest on Monday was part of a six-week-long series of demonstrations named the "Great March of Return", orchestrated by the ruling Hamas government. However, Monday being the 70th anniversary of the Israeli state, and also the day which marked the controversial shift of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Palestinians were more on the edge than usual.
Why is the embassy shift so controversial?
Jerusalem lies at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Israel had occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and, according to the 1993 Israel-Palestine peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is undecided and slated to be discussed. For most of modern history, Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem was never internationally recognized. However, that changed with Trump's declaration to shift the US embassy in December 2017.
Israel alleges violence by Palestinians, says only terrorists were killed
Israel said that around 40,000 Palestinians had taken part in "violent riots" across 13 locations along the Gaza Strip security fence on Monday and hurled stones and incendiary devices at Israeli forces. It added that only people engaging in "terrorist activity" had been fired upon by snipers, while tear gas had been used on the others "according to rules of engagement".
Benjamin Netanyahu defends Israeli forces
"The Hamas terrorist organization declares its intention to destroy Israel and sends thousands to breach the border fence in order to achieve this goal. We will continue to act with determination to protect our sovereignty and our citizens," said Isreali PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel's actions largely condemned by the international community
Despite assurances, the international community, barring the US, largely condemned the attacks. While US took Israel's side, Kuwait, Germany and UK diplomatically chided Israel's actions. French President Emmanuel Macron outright condemned the firing, as did UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein. Turkey recalled its ambassadors to the US and Israel, while South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel in condemnation of Israel's actions.