At a time the United States embassy was formally opened in Jerusalem on Monday, no fewer than 41 people were killed and more than 1,000 wounded when violence erupted near the Israel border with Palestinians attempted to cross the border from Gaza to Israel.
Palestinians followed through with their vow to protest massively along the Gaza border Monday with tens of thousands demonstrating and 37 killed by Israeli fire as clashes erupted over the controversial inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Protests, which had been getting intense in the past few weeks, suddenly descended into deadly chaos shortly before the formal launching of the United States embassy. President Donald Trump had late last year recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The official opening ceremony for the movement of the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv held on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and several top officials from the United States witnessing the epoch event.
Jared Kushner, an in-law of Trump, and his wife, Ivanka, who is First Daughter, attended the event which is televised across the world. Trump addressed the audience via a recorded video and praised the decision to move the capital to Jerusalem.
Ivanka Trump unveiled the formal dedication and said she was delighted to pronounce “Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
In his remarks, the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman referred to the embassy’s location as “Jerusalem, Israel” drawing wild applause.
The move is a fulfillment of a major campaign promise of Trump, but it had been condemned by leaders across the world. Critics also feared that the development could further complicate ongoing peace talks in the Middle East.
The death toll of 41 during protests in reaction to the embassy opening made it the deadliest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.
Clashes broke out at five points along the Gaza border hours before the opening of the embassy. The Israeli army said that more than 35,000 people were involved in the protests and clashes.
It accused Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of leading a “terrorist operation under the cover of masses of people”.
However, the Palestinian Authority government based in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, accused Israel of carrying out a “terrible massacre”.
Palestinians threw stones, rolled burning tyres towards the border and tried to approach the fence to damage it and potentially break through, with Israeli snipers firing from the other side. They have been infuriated by Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as they consider the eastern part of the city their capital.