Violence and protests as the US opens an embassy in Jerusalem
On 14 May, at least 58 people were killed and thousands injured in Gaza as protests took place against the opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem.
The opening of the US embassy came at a sensitive time in the region, as it took place on the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel being created. Palestine was split into two parts; just over half of it was given to the Jewish people and, on 14 May 1948, that part officially became known as Israel. Many Palestinians were forced from their homes. War broke out and, in the years that followed, what was once Palestine was almost completely taken over by Israel.
The recent violence came after six weeks of
Palestinian protests, which have been called the “Great March of
Palestinians have been protesting along the
Israeli border with the
Palestinian territory of
Gaza – they want their own state and for East Jerusalem to be made their capital. At least 40 Palestinians have been killed in previous weeks.
In recent years, no country had their embassy (official government headquarters in a foreign country) in Jerusalem, and countries didn’t recognise the city as belonging to either side. However, in December 2017, the US became the first country to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and US President Donald Trump announced it would move its embassy there. At the time, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the move would be “unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region”.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner (who is the president’s senior advisor), attended the embassy’s opening ceremony. Donald Trump said it had “been a long time coming”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the day as “glorious” and said it was a “great day for peace”.
However, 60 miles away from Jerusalem, across the border in Gaza, tens of thousands of Palestinians joined in protests against the opening of the embassy. They see the move as the US siding with Israel. Meanwhile, Israel has accused Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic movement, which some say is a terrorist organisation, of using the protests and the opening of the embassy as a way to start violence against Israel and of trying to cross the border.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said in a statement that Palestinian rioters were “hurling firebombs and explosive devices towards the security fence, throwing rocks and launching flaming objects in order to ignite fires in Israeli territory and harm IDF troops”. However, the Palestinian authorities deny this, and have accused Israel of firing at demonstrators and using too much force. There were no reported fatalities on the Israeli side.
The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said on Twitter that he is “profoundly alarmed and concerned by the... violence and the number of Palestinians killed and injured in the
Gaza protests”. Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Secretary, said the UK did not agree with the
US’s decision to open an embassy to Jerusalem.
The Israeli Prime Minister and his wife take a selfie with Trump and Kushner.
Gaza and the West Bank are Palestinian