JERUSALEM–Palestinians hurled rocks, set tires ablaze, and tried to breach a border fence as Israeli snipers fired from the other side, leaving as many as 45 rioters dead during Monday’s inauguration of the new U.S. embassy.
Health officials report least 772 were wounded, including 86 in critical or serious condition.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, more than 35,000 people were involved in the clashes on Monday, as the IDF accused Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers of leading a “terrorist operation under the cover of masses of people.”
“Big day for Israel. Congratulations!” President Trump tweeted Monday.
The new embassy recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been promised by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
President Trump, following up on a campaign promise, announced the embassy move late last year. The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as a future capital and have been outraged by the decision.
Israeli supporters have suspected the violence on Monday, which included the death of at least five minors, saw Palestinian authorities provoking children and others to invade Israel in anticipation of retaliation by the IDF, a move that would gain sympathy for Palestinians in the international press.
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Radwan promised further rioting, saying, “Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem will be a disaster on the American administration and a black day in the history of the American people because they are partners with the occupation and its aggression against the Palestinian people,” with the Palestinian authority accusing Israel of carrying out a “massacre.”
Speaking to Agence France-Presse, Bilal Fasayfes, 31, boarded a free bus to the border with his wife and two children in the Gaza city of Khan Yunis.
“If half the people die we won’t care. We will keep going so the other half can live with dignity,” he said.
Gangs of masked young men were reported marching through Gaza streets forcing shops to close down in an “general strike” supported by Palestinian leaders, as rioters burned American and Israeli flags.
The protests are expected to continue into Tuesday.
feature image via VOA News