France calls for Israeli restraint
France’s Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has called on the Israeli authorities to “act with caution and restraint in the use of force, which must be strictly proportional”.
“It is urgent to reinstate the conditions necessary for the pursuit of a peaceful solution in a regional context already marked by high tensions,” he added. “France is calling on all actors to act responsibly to prevent a new flare-up.”
He also reiterated France’s opposition to the US embassy move, saying it “violated international law and, in particular, UN Security Council resolutions”.
Mr Le Drian met his UK counterpart, Boris Johnson, in London on Monday.
BREAKING Death toll rises to 43 – health officials
Monday’s death toll in Gaza has risen to 43, Palestinian health officials say, with more than 2,238 people reported injured.
It is the deadliest day since the start six weeks ago of a series of protests dubbed the “Great March of Return” along the Israel-Gaza border fence.
There have been at least 90 fatalities in this latest spell of demonstrations, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
PLO calls for general strike to mourn dead
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has reportedly called for a general strike “to mourn the martyrdom” of protesters on the Israel-Gaza border.
The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, cited PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef as announcing a “complete strike” across the Palestinian territories.
US has ‘insulted the world’, says Abbas spokesman
A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem will further destabilise the Middle East.
“With this step, the US administration has cancelled its role in the peace process and has insulted the world, the Palestinian people and the Arab and the Islamic nation and it has created incitement and instability,” Nabil Abu Rdeineh told Reuters news agency.
Top US diplomat praises embassy move
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is yet to say anything about the violent clashes at the Gaza border.
He has released a statement praising President Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy, saying he looked forward to returning to Jerusalem soon.
President Trump tweeted twice on Monday to celebrate the embassy’s opening, but also chose not to address the deadly violence in Gaza.
His son-in-law and aide Jared Kushner briefly noted the protests in his speech at the embassy opening event, saying the protesters were “part of the problem and not the solution”.
Here’s Mike Pompeo’s statement in full:
Protesters ‘hurling firebombs and explosive devices’ – IDF
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has said 40,000 Palestinians are taking part in “violent riots” in 13 locations along the Israel-Gaza border, and that it is determined to fulfil its mission to protect Israeli territory and civilians.
“The rioters are hurling firebombs and explosive devices at the security fence and at IDF troops and are burning tires, throwing rocks and launching flaming objects with the intention of igniting fires in Israeli territory and harming IDF troops,” a statement said.
“IDF troops are responding with riot dispersal means and fire, and are operating according to standard operating procedures.”
Rights groups – including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and others – have condemned the IDF’s actions.
“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,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the HRW’s Middle East director.
Israel says jet struck Hamas facility
An Israeli fighter jet has struck a military training facility belonging to the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip, according to a statement from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
“The strike was conducted in response to the violent acts of the last few hours being carried out by Hamas along the security fence,” the statement says.
Earlier, an aircraft and a tank targeted two Hamas military positions in response to an incident in which Israeli forces were fired upon, the statement adds.
“The IDF operates with determination in order to prevent massive terror activities constantly being led by the Hamas terror organisation in. Each act of terror will be met with a harsh response.”
Hamas and other groups organising the protests on the Israel-Gaza border say they are peacefully calling for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to land they fled from or were forced to leave in 1948, when Israel was created.
The Israeli government has long ruled out any right of return and says terrorists are using the cover of the protests to try to cross illegally into its territory.
Egypt joins condemnations of force
Egypt’s foreign ministry has released a statement condemning the Israeli military’s use of force at the border.
Egypt rejects the use of force against peaceful marches demanding legitimate and just rights, and warns of the negative consequences of this dangerous escalation in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
US ‘breaking international law’
As triumphant speeches continue at the new US embassy, the Palestinian foreign ministry has accused the US administration of “acting on its arrogance of power and disdain for Palestinian rights” and stressed that the fate of Jerusalem “will only be determined in line with international law”.
“As the Palestinian people commemorate seventy years since the onset of their Nakba (catastrophe) of dispossession, denial, and injustice, the US administration added insult to injury in Jerusalem by defying international law and rejecting UN Security Council resolutions relevant to Palestinian rights, especially in Jerusalem,” a statement carried by the official Wafa news agency says.
The ministry adds: “The Palestinian leadership will continue to pursue all available legal and diplomatic avenues to defend our people’s rights from Israel’s entrenched regime of colonisation and aggression as well as states that defend and sponsor this regime of oppression. This is also an international responsibility.”
Israel regards Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided” capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war – as the capital of a future state.
Benjamin Netanyahu: ‘This is history’
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke after Kushner.
He personally thanked Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and President Trump.
“What a glorious day. Remember this moment. This is history. President Trump, by recognising history, you have made history.”
He praised Israeli soldiers who were “protecting the borders of Israel, as we speak, today”.
He saluted the intelligence and security services too, to applause from the crowd.
Today, the embassy of the most powerful nation on earth. Our greatest ally, the United States of America. Today, its embassy opened here!”
Kushner: ‘Once again the US can be trusted’
Jared Kushner minutes ago finished speaking at the opening ceremony. He called Jerusalem “the eternal heart of the Jewish people”.
“By moving our embassy to Jerusalem we have showed the world once again that the United States can be trusted.”
That remark caused some consternation from commentators, who pointed out that President Trump has just spectacularly reneged on the nuclear deal signed with Iran under the Obama administration.
In the first reference from a Trump official during the ceremony to the violence taking place at the border, Kushner said: “Those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution.”
He said the controversial decision to move the embassy “did not reflect a departure from our strong commitment to lasting peace”.
“The United States is prepared to support a peace agreement in every way that we can. We believe that it is possible for both sides to gain more than they give so that all people can live in peace safe from danger, free from fear and able to pursue their dreams,” he said.
Lebanese PM: Embassy move is ‘provocative’
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a series of tweets on Monday that the US embassy relocation was a “provocative” move that would “further exacerbate” tension in the region.
“We affirm our complete solidarity with the Palestinian brothers in their legitimate struggle,” he said.
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Human rights groups condemn Israel’s use of force
Human rights groups have condemned the Israeli military’s use of force against protesters at the Gaza border.
Amnesty International called it an “abhorrent violation of international law”.
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Israeli group B’Tselem said the Israeli authorities had shown an “appalling indifference towards human life” and called for an “immediate halt to the killing of Palestinian demonstrators”.
The demonstrations held in Gaza today came as no surprise. Israel had plenty of time to come up with alternate approaches for dealing with the protests, apart from firing live ammunition. The fact that live gunfire is once again the sole measure that the Israeli military is using in the field evinces appalling indifference towards human life on the part of senior Israeli government and military officials.
B’Tselem calls for an immediate halt to the killing of Palestinian demonstrators. If the relevant officials do not issue an order to stop the lethal fire, the soldiers in the field must refuse to comply with these manifestly unlawful open-fire orders.
UN chief concerned over ‘high number of people killed’ in Gaza
UN Secretary General António Guterres expresses concern about the reported death toll at the protests in Gaza, the Associated Press reports.
“I’m particularly worried about the news coming from Gaza with the high number of people killed,” he tells reporters in Vienna.
Ivanka Trump unveils plaque at embassy
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Mr Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, unveiled a plaque on the wall of the building that will serve as the temporary home of the US embassy.
“On behalf of the 45th president of the Unites States of America, we welcome you officially and for the first time to the embassy of the United States here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” Ms Trump said.
Trump: ‘Congratulations. It’s been a long time coming.’
President Trump did not travel to Jerusalem for the opening ceremony, but a video message from him was just played on a big screen there.
He said: “Exactly 70 years ago today the United States under Harry Truman became the first nation to recognise the state of Israel. Today we open the US embassy in Jerusalem. It’s been a long time coming.”
He added: “Today Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government. It is the home of the Israeli legislature and the Israeli supreme court and Israel’s prime minister and president.
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Yet for many years we failed to acknowledge the obvious. The plain reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
Mr Trump said he had accomplished the relocation “many many years ahead of schedule”, adding that the US would “always be a great friend to Israel and a partner in the cause of freedom and peace”.
Source : BBC