Jerusalem/Gaza: Israeli forces killed 52 Palestinians on the Gaza border in the conflict's bloodiest day in years on Monday as clashes and protests coincided with the deeply controversial opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
The clashes, which left more than 2,400 Palestinians wounded, erupted before a White House delegation and Israeli officials opened the embassy at an inauguration ceremony in Jerusalem and continued throughout the day, according to AFP.
It was the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a 2014 Gaza war.
The dead included eight children under the age of 16, according to the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations. The Gazan health ministry provided the overall death and injury toll.
Tens of thousands had gathered near the border in protest while smaller numbers of stone-throwing Palestinians approached the fence and sought to break through, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.
The embassy inauguration nonetheless went on as planned, attended by a Washington delegation that included US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, both White House aides. She helped declare the new embassy open and a plaque and seal were unveiled before the 800 guests at the ceremony.
Trump addressed the ceremony by video.
Earlier, Jerusalem, which is sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians, was decorated with roadside flowerbeds in the design of the US flag and posters reading “Trump make Israel great again.”
Outside Jerusalem’s ancient Damascus Gate, Israelis danced in another celebration on Sunday, marking the capture of the Old City from Arab forces in the 1967 Middle East War.
Hundreds of Israeli rightists entered Al Aqsa mosque compound, an icon of Palestinian nationalism and a vestige of ancient Jewish temples. Witnesses said some prostrated themselves in Jewish prayer, violating religious restrictions at the site and sparking scuffled with Muslim worshippers.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has described the events in Gaza as "one of the most ferocious days" during a press conference. He also told a press conference that the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem was an assault on the sovereignty of the Palestinian people.
"On this day, the Israeli massacres against our people continue in the Gaza Strip as well as the West Bank. Today is one of the most ferocious days that our people have witnessed," said Abbas.
"As we speak, about 52 Palestinians have been killed, a number which is likely to increase. This is an indication of the level of Israeli brutality", he added.
"Today Israel is celebrating the opening of the US embassy. They allege that the occupied land of Jerusalem is the land of their forefathers. That is a falsification of history. Palestinians have been living continuously on this land. Our people will not give up their peaceful demonstrations until we reach victory with Jerusalem as our capital", Abbas said.
"By this move [of the embassy] the US has excluded itself from the peace process in the Middle East. It can no longer act as mediator and its role will no longer be valid", he added.
Meanwhile, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian Authority's UN ambassador, has condemned Israeli strikes on unarmed Palestinians in Gaza. Speaking at a press conference in New York, Mansour described Washington's decision to open its embassy in Jerusalem as "very tragic".
"We will use all of our available rights in the security council to see it shouldering its responsibility to condemn this massacre and bring those responsible to justice," said Mansour.
"Very tragic that they (America) are celebrating illegal action while Israel is injuring and killing thousands of Palestinians. Tragic day for Palestinians and shame on those who ignore the pain and suffering of the Palestinian people", he said.
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