As Israel shoots unarmed Palestinians on its border with Gaza, killing at least 46 and injuring more than 1,700 so far Monday, the United States officially opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, fulfilling a controversial pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump who has recognized the holy city as the Israeli capital.
"Today we open the United States embassy in Jerusalem, Israel," U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman said at the beginning of the inaugural ceremony, attended by a U.S. delegation from Washington and Israeli leaders.
Meanwhile on the Gaza border, at 41 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire in the latest in a round of protests dubbed the "Great March of Return", health officials said. This is the highest death count since the beginning of the protests on March 30 and since the 2014 Israel 50-day war against Gaza when more than 1,500 people were killed.
The Palestinian government said Israel, the occupying Power, was fully responsible for the grave escalation now transpiring in the Gaza Strip. “This disproportionate and illegal use of lethal force against unarmed civilian protesters is criminal,” Palestine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in a statement Monday.
The statement added that the international community has a legal and moral obligation to ensure accountability for these unchecked crimes that Israel is carrying out with impunity due to the encouragement of some countries, including the US Administration, stated the statement. “This criminal behavior must have consequences.”
Touching on the controversial U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, the ministry said Washington was acting with “arrogance” ignoring the palestinian people’s 70 years struggle for a homeland specially as the opening of the embassy comes just a day ahead of the commemoration of Nakba Day, which coincides with the founding of the state of Israel.
“As the Palestinian people commemorate seventy years since the onset of their Nakba (catastrophe) of dispossession, denial, and injustice, the US Administration added insult to injury in Jerusalem by defying international law and rejecting UN Security Council resolutions relevant to Palestinian rights, especially in Jerusalem,” said the ministry in a statement.
It further slammed the inauguration of the U.S. embassy in occupied Jerusalem as an act of hostility against Palestinian national rights and international law.
Senior White House Adviser Ivanka Trump stands next to the dedication plaque at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, during the dedication ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018. | Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump ended decades of Washington’s policy stating that the status of the city of Jerusalem must be decided as part of a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, a position that most of the international community continues to fully support.
In the 1967 war Israel took over the eastern part of the city as well as the West Bank from Jordan. In 1980, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and declared the whole city as its capital, a move that was rejected by most countries in the world.
The western side of the city is part of the widely-accepted territory of the state of Israel which was founded in 1948 after the end of the British Mandate for Palestine. The Palestinian leadership and most of the international community consider East Jerusalem as occupied territory and the future capital of a sovereign Palestinian state.