Israel forces ‘kill 52 Palestinians’ protesting US embassy’s move to Jerusalem as Gaza Strip violence 'leaves 1,200 wounded'
More than 1,200 more are reported to have been wounded in what is already the bloodiest day in the country since 2014.
Loudspeakers on Gaza mosques urged Palestinians to join protests as the US embassy prepares to officially make its controversial move to Jerusalem.
Demonstrators clashed with border guards on what was also the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, as warplanes struck what Israel called a Hamas post in northern Gaza.
Black smoke from burning tyres rose into the air at the border, as activists tried to use the cloud as cover from snipers.
Masked protesters hurled stones towards the border fences as Israeli troops fired volleys of tear gas and live bullets back into the crowds.
What we know so far
- The US today officially moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
- The move was controversial as both the Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital
- Thousands of Palestinians protested at the Gaza border with Israel today, demanding an end to the blocklade and slamming the US embassy move
- Demonstrators burned tyres and threw stones and Israel troops responded with tear gas and live rounds
- At least 52 Palestinians have been killed and 1,200 more wounded
- No casualties have been reported on the Israeli side
Demonstrators also used kites to drop Molotov cocktails on Israeli forces – who in turn used drones to hit protesters with tear gas.
At least 52 Palestinians – including a 14-year-old boy – have so far been killed today.
More than 1,200 more have been wounded by Israeli fire, Palestinian health officials said.
The bloodshed makes today the deadliest since a devastating 2014 cross-border war.
Gaza science teacher Ali, who declined to give his last name, today said: “Today is the big day when we will cross the fence and tell Israel and the world we will not accept being occupied forever.
“Many may get martyred today, so many.
“But the world will hear our message – occupation must end.”
The border area has seen daily protests against a decade-old blockade of the territory for the last two weeks.
But today’s demonstration – on the day of the embassy move – is by far the biggest yet.
Today’s deaths bring the total of Palestinians killed during the protests over the last two weeks to 97.
No Israeli casualties have been reported.
The killings have drawn international criticism but the US has echoed Israel in accusing Gaza's ruling Hamas movement of instigating violence.
In a statement, the Israeli army said troops had shot and killed three Palestinians who attempted to plant a bomb along the fence.
It also said an aircraft had targeted a Hamas post in northern Gaza after Israeli troops came under fire.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said the army had set up additional "layers" of security in and around communities near the border to defend Israeli civilians.
He said there already had been several "significant attempts" to break through the fence.
Cornicus said: "Even if the fence is breached, we will be able to protect Israeli civilians from attempts to massacre or kidnap or kill them."
Israeli leaders and a US delegation including Donald Trump's daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, are today attending the opening of the new embassy.
Donald Trump tweeted ahead of the gathering that today was "a great day for Israel".
The decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem was controversial because both Israel and Palestine claim the city as their capital.
When Trump announced the move in December, it was seen by many has a setback to the peace process.
It sparked widespread protests across the Muslim world and fears of more unrest in the Middle East, with Arab leaders blasting the decision.
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