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07.25 14 May 2018


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Updated 13:30

The number of protesters killed by Israeli forces on the Gaza border has risen to 37 according to the Gaza health Ministry.

Nearly 80 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since weekly protests began in late March.

The “March of Return” protests began on March 30th to mark Land Day - a day of commemoration to mark the deaths in Israel of six unarmed Arab protesters in 1976.

They are due to end tomorrow - when Palestinians commemorate Nakba, or "Day of the Catastrophe," referring to the mass uprooting of Palestinians during the Mideast war over the 1948 creation of Israel.

The protests also coincide with the opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem.

Thousands gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah to protest the inauguration this morning.

The Gaza leader of the Hamas militant group has suggested tens of thousands of Palestinians could storm across the border as the protests reach their climax.

Yehiyeh Sinwar said the crowds will be unarmed, peaceful but "like a starving tiger" in pent-up anger and unpredictability.

Israel warned it would prevent any border breach, sticking to open-fire policies, including targeting "main instigators" and those approaching the fence.

It has accused Hamas of using the protests as a cover to attack the border, insisting it has a right to protect it.

Israeli’s wave flags during a march marking the 51st anniversary of the capture of the eastern sector of Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, 13-05-2018. Image: Ilia Yefimovich/DPA/PA Images

Embassy

 

A number of members of the Trump administration have arrived in Israel to celebrate the opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem – however the majority of EU ambassadors are boycotting the event.

Among those who are in the country for the occasion are Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, both of whom serve as advisers to the US President.

President Trump’s controversial decision to move the embassy has caused fury in the region and Palestinians have been holding major protests every week for the past seven weeks.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is among the US delegation, described the embassy's move as "a sign of the enduring friendship and partnership between our two countries."

Mr Trump announced the move last year, officially recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a decision that was not welcomed in many other parts of the world. 

Peace process

Jerusalem is of massive importance to Israelis and Palestinians, being a city sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Israelis see the city as their "eternal and undivided" capital, with Mr Netanyahu saying that "under any peace agreement you could possibly imagine, Jerusalem will remain Israel's capital."

Palestinians, however, see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The general delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation to the United States said the US embassy's move "gives life to a religious conflict instead of a dignified peace."

They added: "Tragically, the US administration has chosen to side with Israel's exclusivist claims over a city that has for centuries been sacred to all faiths."

But Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that other countries should follow the US lead "because it's the right thing to do."

He added: "Move your embassies to Jerusalem because it advances peace, and that's because you can't base peace on a foundation of lies."

Boycott

Previous US administrations had put on hold any decision on the embassy's location, pending progress in the peace talks, which have been on hold since 2014.

Most other countries say moving their embassies would prejudge any possible peace deal between the two sides and they showed their disapproval on Sunday by their absence.

Israel said all 86 countries with diplomatic missions in the country were invited to the event, and 33 confirmed they would attend.

Representatives from Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic are among those present but there are no envoys from western European states.

International consensus

The EU mission in Israel said on Friday that the bloc would "respect the international consensus on Jerusalem... including on the location of their diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved."

The embassy event comes as more than 30,000 people celebrated Jerusalem Day, the 51st anniversary of Israel's capture of the eastern sector of the city from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war.

Additional reporting IRN


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