Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Palestinian protests erupt ahead of United States embassy opening in Jerusalem

Palestinian protests erupt ahead of United States embassy opening in Jerusalem

Protests intensified on the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding, with loudspeakers on Gaza mosques urging Palestinians to join a "Great March of Return".

Israeli troops killed 16 Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy on Monday, and some 500 protesters were injured, at least 200 by live bullets, health officials said.

Trump, who vowed to move the embassy from Tel Aviv during his campaign, will address invitees to the designation ceremony via video conference, according to two USA officials.

Several thousand had gathered near the border, while smaller numbers of stone-throwing Palestinians were approaching the fence and seeking to damage it, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.

Palestinian witnesses said Israeli aircraft also dropped flammable material on Monday to burn tires that protesters had stacked to set on fire.

Israelis began celebrating on Sunday, as tens of thousands of marched in Jerusalem, some holding American flags, to mark Jerusalem Day.

The Israeli military says its troops are defending the border and firing in accordance with the rules of engagement.

In a Foreign Ministry statement, Egypt also "expressed its strong condemnation for targeting of unarmed Palestinian civilians by the Israeli occupation forces". A reporter witnessed two people being shot in the legs.

The number of protesters in Palestine is expected to double in the next few days, as the move and the Nakba draw near. The issue has been so thorny that worldwide negotiators had left the question of Jerusalem to the final stages of any peace deal.

Safa Yasin, 19, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, said the embassy move "cements Israeli control over Jerusalem" and shows disregard for the rights of the Palestinian people.

Hamas leaders suggested a border breach was possible on Monday, while Israel has warned it would prevent protesters from breaking through the barrier at any cost.

There have been weeks of protests leading up to Monday's opening ceremony, timed to coincide with that anniversary.

Asked in an interview with Fox News Sunday about whether there was any life left in the peace process, Mr Pompeo responded by saying "the peace process is most decidedly not dead".

Pastor Robert Jeffress, leader of a Dallas-area Baptist church and a spiritual adviser to President Donald Trump, is slated to deliver a blessing on Monday at the opening of the relocated embassy.

President Trump said his "greatest hope" is for peace.

"You can't make the blessing on every "kushi" you see - in America you see one every five minutes, so you make it only on a person with a white father and mother", he said, according to The Times of Israel.

Moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem - a key Trump campaign promise - infuriated the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as a future capital.

That protest culminates on May 15, a day Palestinians traditionally lament homes and land lost as Israel was created in 1948, given extra significance this year because it falls on the day after the US Embassy move. On Sunday evening Israeli Premier received the USA delegation sent by Trump, reaffirming that his decision had been "historic and courageous". It annexed East Jerusalem shortly later, claiming it part of its "indivisible capital", in a move which was not recognized internationally.

Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, the United States and most other nations have not recognised any country's sovereignty over Jerusalem, which is holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians.

"They're very cheerful, happy and good people and I'm very proud of our partners in Guatemala", Barkat said.

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