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Dozens Killed by Israel While Protesting U.S. Jerusalem Embassy Move on Gaza's Bloodiest Day Since 2014 War

Israeli soldiers stationed on the border with Gaza killed 37 Palestinians and wounded more than 1,600 people on Monday in the bloodiest day since the 2014 war with Israel, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.  

Thousands of Palestinians have been demonstrating along the border between Gaza and Israel for almost a month in the lead-up to the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. Palestinians are also demonstrating for their right to return to their ancestral land.

The protests have been generally peaceful, but some young men threw stones at Israeli soldiers or tried to fly flaming kites over the border. Israel positioned snipers along the Gaza border to prevent protesters from attempting to scale the fence, and some protesters were killed during the past month of demonstrations.

But Monday’s protests, which took place as the U.S. opened the doors of its new embassy, were the biggest of the past month, with the worst violence in years.

"Once again, Israel has responded to protests in Gaza by using lethal sniper fire, killing scores of Palestinian protesters and wounding many, many more. Had any other country done this, it is hard to imagine Washington remaining quiet," Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of organizations that oppose Israel's policies toward Palestinians, told Newsweek.

"Instead, as this is happening, the United States government is well represented in Jerusalem, where it is opening its embassy to Israel as the Israeli military sheds Palestinian blood in Gaza. This should only be seen as a rubber stamp of the killings and a total abdication of any responsibility to lead on issues of human rights," Munayyer continued. 

Israeli officials said there were about 35,000 people demonstrating around the border area.

“IDF troops are responding with riot dispersal means and fire, and are operating according to standard operating procedures,” the Israeli Defense Force tweeted Monday as the death toll continued to rise.

In December, President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that sparked ire among Palestinians and across the Middle East. The Trump administration has not taken an official position on whether the Israelis and Palestinians should negotiate a two-state solution.

The decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was viewed as a de facto acceptance of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem, half of which had been viewed as the future capital of a Palestinian state if a two-state solution were negotiated.

The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are attending the opening ceremony of the new embassy.

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