Daily Archives: May 14, 2018

Shared Article from AOL: Netanyahu: ‘What a glorious day for Israel’


https://aol.it/2IfZIEe

White House pins blame on Hamas following deadly Gaza protests
AOL.COM 10 hrs ago
GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli troops shot dead dozens of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on Monday as the United States opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, a move that has fueled Palestinian anger and drawn foreign criticism that it undermines peace efforts.

It was the bloodiest single day for Palestinians since the Gaza conflict in 2014. Palestinian Health Ministry officials said 55 protesters were killed and 2,700 injured either by live gunfire, tear gas or other means.

The bloodshed drew calls for restraint from some countries, including France and Britain, and stronger criticism from others, with Turkey calling it “a massacre”.

The White House declined to join in urging Israel to exercise restraint and pinned the blame squarely on Gaza’s ruling Hamas group – backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who described the Israeli military’s actions as self-defense of his country’s borders.

RELATED: Dozens dead at protest along Israel-Gaza fence

In contrast to the scenes in Gaza, Israeli dignitaries and guests attended a ceremony in Jerusalem to open the U.S. Embassy following its relocation from Tel Aviv.

The move fulfilled a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump, who in December recognized the holy city as the Israeli capital.

Netanyahu thanked Trump for “having the courage to keep your promises”.

“What a glorious day for Israel,” he said in a speech. “We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay.”

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move that is not recognized internationally, as its “eternal and indivisible capital”.

Most countries say the status of Jerusalem – a sacred city to Jews, Muslims and Christians – should be determined in a final peace settlement and that moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal.

Peace talks aimed a finding a two-state solution to the conflict have been frozen since 2014.

Trump, in a recorded message, said he remained committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He was represented at the ceremony by his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, U.S. envoy to the Middle East.

Kushner said it was possible for both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to gain more than give in any peace deal. “Jerusalem must remain a city that brings people of all faiths together,” he said in a speech.

But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the United States had opened an “American settlement outpost in East Jerusalem”. He called the deaths in Gaza a massacre and announced a general strike on Tuesday.

South Africa said it was withdrawing its ambassador to Israel until further notice following what it called the “indiscriminate and grave” attack on Monday.

BORDER BLOODSHED

In Gaza, Palestinian protests quickly turned into bloodshed. Tens of thousands had streamed to the edge of the coastal enclave’s land border, some approaching the Israeli fence.

“Today is the big day when we will cross the fence and tell Israel and the world we will not accept being occupied forever,” said Gaza science teacher Ali, who declined to give his last name.

Clouds of black smoke from tyres set alight by demonstrators rose in the air. Demonstrators, some armed with slingshots, hurled stones at the Israeli security forces, who fired volleys of tear gas and intense rounds of gunfire.

RELATED: American embassy opens in Jerusalem

The protests are scheduled to culminate on Tuesday, the day Palestinians mourn as the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe” when, in 1948, hundreds of thousands of them were driven out of their homes or fled the fighting around Israel’s creation.

Netanyahu took to Twitter to direct the blame at Hamas.

“Every country has an obligation to defend its borders,” he wrote. “The Hamas terrorist organization declares it intends 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 citizens.”

Hamas denied instigating the violence, but the White House backed Netanyahu. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response,” White House spokesman Raj Shah told a regular news briefing.

The Israeli military said in a statement: “Rioters hurled firebombs and explosive devices at the security fence and Israeli troops”. The soldiers’ response, it said, was in accordance with “standard operating procedures”.

The 55 deaths included at least six people under 18 years of age, including one girl. The total number of fatalities since a series of protests to demand Palestinians’ right to return to their ancestral homes in Israel is now 100.

They also included a medic and a man in a wheelchair who had been pictured on social media using a slingshot. The Israeli military said three of those killed were armed militants who tried to place explosives near the fence.

Throughout the day sirens of ambulance vehicles carrying casualties to hospitals wailed almost non-stop. In Gaza mosques, loudspeakers mourned the dead, who were carried for burial in funeral marches.

RESTRAINT

Trump’s recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December outraged Palestinians, who said the United States could no longer serve as an honest broker in any peace process with Israel.

A senior Hamas leader, Khalil Al-Hayya, said at a border encampment that Monday’s protest was timed to coincide with the “deplorable crime of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem”.

He said: “Our people went out today to respond to this new Zionist-American aggression, and to draw by their blood the map of their return.”

France and Britain called on Israel to show restraint, with French President Emmanuel Macron planning to talk to all involved parties in the region over the next few days. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned” by the events in Gaza and said it showed the need for a two-state political solution.

Britain said it had no plans to move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and it disagreed with the U.S. decision to do so. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the U.S. move flouted international law.

Other responses to the violence were stronger. Regional power Turkey accused Israeli security forces of carrying out a massacre and said the U.S. Embassy move had encouraged them.

More than 2 million people are crammed into the narrow Gaza strip, which is blockaded by Egypt and Israel.

“The policy of Israeli authorities to fire irrespective of whether there is an immediate threat to life on Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, caged in for a decade and under occupation for a half century, has resulted in a bloodbath that anyone could have foreseen,” Human Rights Watch said.

The Trump administration says it has nearly completed a new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan but is undecided on how and when to roll it out.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, in a statement on Monday, accused the United States of “blatant violations of international law”.

“Choosing a tragic day in Palestinian history (to open the Jerusalem embassy) shows great insensibility and disrespect for the core principles of the peace process,” Hamdallah wrote.

(Additonal reporting by Alex Winning, Steve Holland, Yara Bayoumy, Doina Chiacu and Ori Lewis; Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Janet Lawrence, Nick Tattersall and David Stamp)

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GLOBAL POWER Scores dead in Gaza fence protest as U.S. moves embassy to Jerusalem


GLOBAL POWER

Scores dead in Gaza fence protest as U.S. moves embassy to Jerusalem

At least 90 demonstrators have been killed and 11,500 wounded by Israel forces during protests since March 30, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.

by Matt Bradley /May.14.2018 / 12:21 AM ET / Updated 7:28 AM ET

A Palestinian protester fires a slingshot near the Gaza-Israel fence on Monday.Said Khatib / AFP – Getty Images

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — At least 41 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and almost 1,960 others were wounded after thousands of protesters converged on the razor wire fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel just hours before the U.S. Embassy opened in Jerusalem.

The Israeli Defense Forces accused Hamas of “leading a terrorist operation under the cover of masses of people,” adding that “firebombs and explosive devices” as well as rocks were being thrown towards the barrier.

Watch Live: U.S. embassy opens in Jerusalem

00:03

The Israeli military said the demonstration involved 40,000 people “taking part in violent riots” at 13 locations along the boundary. The 40-mile fence was built by Israel along Gaza’s land border for security reasons in 1994.

The Gaza protest started on March 30. Monday’s march was meant to express anger over U.S. Embassy’s inauguration, while Tuesday will mark “Nakba” or Catastrophe Day, when Palestinians observe the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding.

Moving the embassy from Tel Aviv breaks with decades of Washington policy and distances America from its allies. Palestinians consider Jerusalem their capital.

Related

Jerusalem embassy to be opened by ‘religious bigot,’ Romney says

The protest movement started not with a bullet or a bomb, but with a hashtag.

“What if 200,000 demonstrators came out in a peaceful march and broke into the barbed wire east of Gaza,” wrote Ahmed Abu Artema in a Facebook post on Jan. 7.

“What can a heavily-armed occupation do to those peaceful human waves?” the 32-year-old Palestinian journalist asked.

Palestinians run for cover from tear gas east of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip on Monday.Mohammed Abed / AFP – Getty Images

Artema ended the post with #GreatMarchofReturn — a slogan that quickly went viral and then, two months later, blossomed into reality.

A total of 90 have died and around 11,500 others wounded since a maiden protest on March 30, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health. Several hundred of the injured protesters were kids, according to Save the Children.

Marchers say they have continued to turn out for the weekly demonstrations because they have so little to lose. More than a decade under Israeli and then Egyptian blockades has left the enclave’s 2 million people, particularly its youth, largely jobless and hopeless.

Dozens killed in Gaza protests as U.S. moves embassy to Jerusalem

00:52

In Gaza, fresh water is unsanitary and the seas are polluted with raw sewage. Power lasts as little as four hours a day while medical care and education are abysmal. Peace seems increasingly far off and, for most Gazans, gaining permission to leave is impossible without solid education or job opportunities abroad.

“The youth really struggle with a lack of prospects and hope of a good life,” said recent graduate Anass Jnena, 23. “I have seen friends really weep in silence because they could not get to travel out.

The movement spawned from Artema’s Facebook post has defied much of the conventional wisdom about Gazan resistance to Israel’s more than decade-long blockade. It has remained relatively peaceful, largely free from domination by powerful militant factions and inclusive of female activists.

A Palestinian woman protests near the fence separating Gaza and Israel on Monday.Mohammed Salem / Reuters

“Everybody agrees that this is a kind of public struggle,” Artema told NBC News as he strolled through clumps of men, women and children sitting on the ground and in tents near the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel on Friday, the seventh weekly demonstration since the protests began on March 30. “We are against any faction or party taking this march into their agenda.”

The movement’s explicit demand is what Palestinians refer to as their “right of return” — the demand that Israel allow the return of millions of Palestinians whose families left or were forcibly removed from Israel at its founding in 1948. Refugees and their descendants make up more than two-thirds of Gaza’s population.

Decades of Israeli leaders have argued that allowing millions of Palestinians to return would diminish the Jewish state’s foundational character.

But it was the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem that became the major motivating factor, according to organizers and participants.

What Trump’s decision on Jerusalem means for those living in the city

04:39

“We felt that the American administration is working against the Palestinians in this issue,” said Isam Hammad, 52, the regional manager of a medical equipment company who said he volunteered to help Artema the day he read his Facebook post. “We felt this all the time but not as clear as this.”

Getting powerful groups to join — but not dominate — the movement took convincing, said Salah Abdel Ati, the head of the Great March of Return’s International and Legal Committee. Gaza been ruled by militants Hamas since they won elections in 2006.

Broad buy-in is part of the strategy. Organizers say the “Great March of Return” is financed by small donations and governed by a central committee of about 27 seats populated by representatives from some 18 political and civil society groups — including the dominant West Bank political party Fatah, as well as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both of which are recognized by the U.S. as terrorist organizations.

A Palestinian uses a slingshot in the Gaza Strip on Monday.Said Khatib / AFP – Getty Images

Despite the march’s high ideals, demonstrators have resorted to violence — throwing stones, rolling burning tires and lofting “incendiary kites” to ignite Israeli fields on the other side of the fence.

“I do understand why they throw stones,” said Anas Inaina, 25, a project coordinator. “You do not throw flowers when you are just suffocating here.”

Related

Palestinians in Gaza vow to continue protest despite Israeli gunfire

But human rights groups have faulted Israel for answering rudimentary weapons with live ammunition. The Israeli Defense Forces have said that was necessary to protect Israeli citizens.

Israeli officials are anxious to prevent a breach massive breach of the fence and potential attacks in communities on the other side of the barrier. They have warned Palestinians to keep well away from the boundary.

During the maiden demonstration on March 30, Israeli soldiers killed more than 20 protesters. Video footage showed several people being shot as they ran away.

The death toll jumped substantially on Monday.

No Israelis have been killed or injured.

Keeping the protests peaceful has been one of the organizers’ principal challenges, particularly reining in desperate young men.

The presence of women and children has had a calming influence — a novelty for Gaza resistance that Israeli officials have likened to the use of human shields. On Friday, women could be seen cooking and distributing food but also joining men on the front line.

“Women are taking places there and they are also welcome there and participating as equal as men,” said Alorjwan Fhurrab, 23, a recent graduate who is unemployed.

Palestinians stand near the fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Sunday.MAHMUD HAMS / AFP – Getty Images

When Fhurrab joined the march one Friday in April, she said she was forced to flee when Israeli snipers opened fire.

“I was running as fast as the young men ran!” she said, but added “some young men were telling me to run faster in order for me to be safe.”

Organizers and rank-and-file activists hope the movement will remain a peaceful force beyond this week.

But they also worry that a violent reaction from Israel could lead to an unmanageable situation — one that would once again push violent groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad to the forefront.

“We believe we will continue,” said Ati, speaking before dozens were killed on Monday. “That’s one scenario. The other scenario is if the Israelis kill more people, if there’s a massacre … maybe we will go to war.”

Matt Bradley, Charlene Gubash and Wajjeh Abu Zarifa reported from Gaza City, Paul Goldman from Jerusalem, Lina Dandees from Tel Aviv, and Jason Cumming and F. Brinley Bruton from London.

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ContributorsCharlene Gubash,Wajjeh Abu Zarifa ,Paul Goldman,Lina Dandees,Jason Cumming,F. Brinley Bruton

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