As many feared, the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem has been met with continued riots and violence. On Monday, NBC News reported that at least 43 Palestinians were killed and 1,960 were wounded during clashes with Israeli forces. There were about 40,000 people at the riots at 13 different locations along the 40-mile fence.
The series of protests began on March 30 after a hashtag #GreatMarchofReturn went viral on social media, and the death toll since has reached at least 90, and 11,500 have been wounded. Save the Children said that several hundred children were injured. The spike in Palestinian deaths on Monday is likely related to the opening of the U.S. Embassy. Tuesday brings no relief, as it’s “Catastrophe Day,” Israel’s 70th anniversary. Many point to President Donald Trump’s decision to open a U.S. Embassy as being one of the reasons the protest movement gained traction.
Even though the protests can be very dangerous, the Palestinian people say “they have so little to lose.” They have little access to medical care, education, and the water is contaminated. They are looking for their “right to return” after millions of Palestinians were forced to leave Israel in 1948. The protesters are doing their best to maintain a peaceful protest, and do not want any political or military affiliated groups to take over.
Some of the people killed on Monday were teenagers, and the New York Times detailed that the protests had turned into a “pitched battle” in the afternoon. Women often led the charge of protesters. Some proclaimed that, “America is the greatest Satan,” while others chanted, “Now we are heading to Jerusalem with millions of martyrs. We may die but Palestine will live.”
Meanwhile, the Trump administration and the Israeli government celebrated the opening of the U.S. Embassy, with the president remarking that the U.S. “remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement.” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed his feelings of victory.
“What a glorious day…Remember this moment! This is history! President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history.”
Activist groups are condemning the violence that’s leading to high death counts. An Israeli human rights organization called B’Tselem does not believe that Israeli forces should be using gunfire.
“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.”
The group asserts that there are other ways to resolve conflicts with the protesters, rather than using brute force.
On Tuesday, many Palestinians are expected to attempt to cross the fence into Israel, with many anticipating further deaths and injuries.