Clashes in West Bank as Palestinians mark Nakba Day, protest new US embassy

Thousands gather in Ramallah, hundreds march on key crossing point on outskirts of Jerusalem, as dozens are killed on Gaza border

Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops on the outskirts of Jerusalem and in other locations in the West Bank Monday in the hours leading up to the dedication ceremony for the new US Embassy in the capital.

In addition to protesting the embassy move, Palestinians were marking the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” of Israel’s creation in 1948.

The rioting came as dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces during violent protests on the Israel-Gaza border, among them several terror operatives.

At the Qalandiya crossing, north of Jerusalem, hundreds were marching and throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded with firing live bullets, tear gas and rubber-coated steel pellets. A second clash was reported between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and there were further protests in the West Bank city of Hebron. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Earlier Monday, several thousand gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah to protest the inauguration of the US embassy.

Israeli Border Police outside Ramallah, in the West Bank, on May 14, 2018. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP)

Hadashot TV news said the Palestinian Authority was encouraging the protests, including by showing the Gaza border clashes on television in a live feed.

US President Donald Trump announced on December 6, 2017, that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move the US embassy to the city from Tel Aviv. The festive opening took place on Monday afternoon.

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as a capital and view the Trump administration’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital as a show of pro-Israel bias.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said at least 52 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire and more than 500 were injured amid mass protests on the border.

The IDF said around 50,000 Gazans were demonstrating in 12 locations along the border. It said thousands more were gathered at points several hundred meters from the fence.

Palestinian protesters look at tear gas and smoke billowing from burning tyres, east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018. (Mohammed ABED/AFP)

The army said three of those killed were trying to plant explosives at the border fence. It said aircraft struck a Hamas post after gunmen there opened fire on troops.

The army also said aircraft struck a Hamas post after gunmen there opened fire on troops. There were no injuries among the soldiers. Reports said the IAF also struck five targets in the Jabaliya area.

The IDF confirmed it carried out a series of airstrikes in Gaza “in response to the violent acts of the last few hours being carried out by Hamas along the security fence.”

“A short while ago, an IAF fighter jet struck five terrorist targets in a military training facility belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the northern Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement Monday afternoon.

Military sources said the Hamas terror group was determined to spark a major new, long-term uprising against Israel, extending to the West Bank.

Israel said ahead of Monday’s protests that Hamas was planning to breach the Gaza border fence and “massacre” Israelis, and that it would stop a possible border breach at all costs, warning protesters that they were putting their own lives in peril.

Some 800 guests were attending Monday’s embassy inauguration. Representing the US at the opening was US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. US Ambassador David Friedman presided over the dedication ceremony.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and other senior Israeli officials also attended the event, which began at 4 p.m. local time at the embassy’s new location in the Arnona neighborhood of the capital.

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