18 Palestinians killed ahead of US embassy opening in Jerusalem

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Gaza, May 14 (IANS) At least 18 Palestinians in Gaza were shot dead by Israeli troops on Monday after bloody clashes erupted on the border before the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, which has infuriated Palestinians.

A 14-year-old boy was among those killed and more than 900 people were injured, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said.

Palestinians hurled stones while the Israeli military used snipers as black smoke poured from burning tyres, the BBC reported.

The Israeli Army said 10,000 “violent rioters” had gathered along the security fence and that its troops were operating “in accordance with standard procedures”.

Reports said hundreds had suffered gun shot wounds while many others were hit by shrapnel, affected by the smoke or had bruising and trauma.

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Although the Israeli Defence Forces earlier distributed leaflets that said “Do not approach the security fence and do not participate in Hamas’ life-threatening farce”, several Palestinians managed to get through the security fence.

The demonstrations and general strikes had been planned to protest against the US embassy’s relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which many consider contravenes international consensus to not recognize the city as Israel’s capital until its status is established during negotiations.

Palestinians see East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in 1980, as the capital of their future state.

The timing of the move has also been slammed, as it is being held a day ahead of Nakba Day (“Day of the Catastrophe”), which this year marks the 70th anniversary of Israel’s creation and subsequent displacement of some 700,000 Palestinian refugees.

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A small interim embassy will start operating on Monday inside the existing US consulate building in Jerusalem. A larger site will be found later when the rest of the embassy moves from Tel Aviv.

US President Donald Trump will address the ceremony by video and he will be represented by his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will also be present at the event.



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