52 die as US opens Jerusalem mission

Erika Holt
May 15, 2018

Eventually, in an afternoon press briefing, the White House addressed the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in years - and blamed the fatalities on the enclave's Islamist rulers Hamas.

The United States officially opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem on Monday fulfilling a pledge by President Donald Trump who has recognized the holy city as the Israeli capital.

Trump announced the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem and thus recognize it as the Israeli capital in December.

Earlier, a warplane and tank targeted two other Hamas posts in response to what it said was fire toward its forces by Hamas. At least 52 people Palestinians were killed and 900 were wounded, about 450 of them by live bullets.

The military said its troops came under fire in some areas, and said protesters tried to break through the border fence.

. It was not clear if Israeli troops suffered any casualties.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the worldwide community.

Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move that is not recognised internationally, as its "eternal and indivisible capital".

The ceremony took place at what until now had been a U.S. consulate building in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanked the U.S. President, calling this "a great day for Israel" and "a great day for America".

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At the ceremony in Jerusalem, Trump's son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner said, "As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking the violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution".

President Trump spent the day at the White House and visited his wife in the evening.

The escalation has brought the number of casualties since March 30, when the Palestinians in Gaza first held the "Great Return March" protests, to nearly 100 dead and more than 11,000 injured.

The protesters burned tires and slung rocks at the Israeli forces located at a distance beyond the fence.

They see the USA move as backing Israeli control over the whole of the city, which Israel regards as its indivisible capital.

"It will not be an easy road", but peace can be achieved if we "dream big", he says. In a statement, it stressed how "quickly and efficiently" Trump's vision to relocate the embassy was realized, after several of his predecessors had sided with diplomatic tradition and left the embassy in Tel Aviv.

"The U.S. has selected one of the most sensitive, one of the most hard issues, to step in and put forward a position that it knows will be significantly damaging to its efforts", said Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian pollster and head of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. European leaders also criticised the step and did so again on Monday. On this important anniversary, it's fitting that the USA finally open an embassy in Israel's self-determined capital.

The rallies are to culminate on Tuesday, May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment - an event Palestinians refer to as the "Nakba" or "the Catastrophe".

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