Gaza massacre: Palestinians killed as U.S. embassy moves to Jerusalem
Palestinian medics and protesters evacuate a wounded youth during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, May 14. More than 40 Palestinians have been shot and 1,900 wounded by Israel forces today as of press time. | Adel Hana/AP

As of press time, at least 52 Palestinians have been shot today as Israeli forces deployed live ammunition, firebombs, and tear gas against thousands of protesters marching in Gaza near the border fence with Israel. They were demonstrating against the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or “Catastrophe,” when Palestinians were expelled from their land in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel. In addition to those killed, up to 2,600 more were injured.

The Palestinian Authority had called for a Day of Rage against the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by President Donald Trump. Palestinians have been on the march throughout the weekend, however, demanding the right to return to land occupied by Israel since its founding. The Right of Return is enshrined in United Nations Resolution 194.

The decision to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the city planned as the future capital of the Palestinian state, is a provocative move that has drawn worldwide criticism. Scheduling it to coincide with the most tragic anniversary on the Palestinian calendar was a further insult by the Trump administration.

With today’s casualties, the total number of people shot dead by Israeli forces over the last six weeks of demonstrations is at least 101 (including among them around 700 children and several clearly-identified journalists), while the number injured has reached 11,000.

A statement released by the Palestinian Human Rights Organization today called for the international community to act and end the “ongoing Nakba.” It said, “For the Palestinian people, 70 years of Nakba means seven decades of subjugation by Israel, characterized by occupation, apartheid, and colonial policies and practices.” In 1947-49, Israeli forces drove more than 750,000 Palestinians from their land and destroyed 450 towns and villages. Many families still live in refugee camps to this day, and the encroachment of Israeli settlements further into Palestinian land has not abated.

Earlier People’s World coverage:

> Rubbing salt into Palestine’s wounds

> How Donald Trump killed hope for a Palestinian state

The rights group claimed more than eight million of 12.7 million Palestinians are displaced worldwide and accused Israel of colluding with the U.S. to stop UN humanitarian aid programs providing support to Palestinian refugees. It condemned “excessive, lethal force” by Israel in response to peaceful marches with unarmed protesters. The statement called on the international community to ensure Israel abides by UN resolutions and international law, offering protection to those forcibly displaced.

Trump celebrates

Amid the carnage unfolding in Gaza, President Trump took to Twitter to celebrate, sending out his congratulations to Israel on its “Big Day.” His posturing is, in part, an attempt to play to his domestic base of support—especially Evangelicals and the Israel lobby—but beyond that, his decision to move the embassy needs to be understood within the context of the wider “peace deal” that he has rather ostentatiously framed as the deal of the century.

President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, right, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin attend the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, May 14. Amid deadly clashes along the Israeli-Palestinian border, Trump’s top aides and supporters, such as Sheldon Adelson, celebrated the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as a campaign promised fulfilled. | Sebastian Scheiner / AP

The basic shape of this deal has been leaked. Palestinians, it seems, are to be offered 40 percent of the occupied West Bank (Areas A and B under the Oslo Accords). The 60 percent that comprises Area C, where the Israeli state has unlawfully built homes for 350,000 Jewish settlers, will become part of the state of Israel.

Jerusalem is, according to Trump, off the table for Palestinians. It will become the undivided capital of Israel, at last consolidating Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. For the Palestinians, the U.S. has allocated as their capital the village of Abu Dis in a suburb of Jerusalem, a village cut off from East Jerusalem by Israel’s unlawful separation wall. The rest of the independent Palestinian state will comprise Gaza and an adjacent strip of land in the Sinai desert.

This deal has, it appears, been cooked up with the cooperation of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Gulf States. It will eventually be presented to Palestinians on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.

The U.S. has historically sought to impose a solution on Palestinians according to what Israel is willing to offer, which has too remained relatively unaltered—no independent state, no right of return, and no renunciation of Israel’s claims to sovereignty of all of Jerusalem.

Opposition inside Israel

Hundreds of Israelis opposed to the embassy move and the recognition of Jerusalem as only Israel’s capital, meanwhile, marched through the city Saturday night. They protested the move, saying it will increase tensions with not only Palestinians, but the whole Arab world.

A boy carries a Palestinian flag while walking through black smoke during a protest on the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, May 14. | Khalil Hamra / AP

They marched from King George Street downtown to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate. Along the way, they chanted slogans: “We oppose an escalation [of the security situation],” “Jerusalem capital of two states—Israel and Palestine,” “End the occupation of east Jerusalem,” and “Netanyahu—resign! Peace is worth more [than the embassy move].”

The demonstration was organized by Peace Now; Standing Together; Hadash, or Democratic Front, a left-wing coalition that includes the Communist Party of Israel; the social democratic Meretz party, and other peace groups.

Marchers denounced not only the U.S. embassy move but also the upcoming annual “Jerusalem Day” celebrations which will include, as every year, a right-wing and religious politically charged march through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. The protesters called to “stop escalating tensions, spreading hatred, and provocations that undermine a chance for peace.”

The Higher Follow-Up Committee for the Arab Community, which represents Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, coordinated a demonstration with Palestinian groups in occupied East Jerusalem held during the embassy’s opening in conjunction with the demonstrations happening on the other side of the border fence.

Head of the Follow-Up Committee and former Democratic Front parliamentarian Mohammad Barakeh said, “We have decided to hold the demonstration at the same time and location so as to raise our voice against U.S. policy that supports Israeli occupation and settlements in a desperate American-Israeli effort to kill all chances for the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Barakeh added, “We will emphasize that this American aggression is being forced upon poor nations to follow suit.”

Tuesday will see further demonstrations across Palestinian territory and in Israeli-occupied Palestine to mark the Nakba anniversary.

This article combines material from Morning Star, earlier reporting by Ben Jamal, and information provided by the Communist Party of Israel.

Updated at 2:45pm CST May 14 to reflect growing casualty numbers.