More than 2,400 protesters have been injured in Gaza on what has been the most violent day of the six week long Great March of Return. Those wounded on Monday include 203 children and 78 women, according to the ministry.
The Palestinian government denounced Monday’s violence as a “terrible massacre” perpetrated “by the forces of the Israeli occupation”, and called for an immediate international intervention to prevent further deaths. A day of national mourning has been declared by the government in Ramallah, to be held Tuesday.
Around 35,000 protesters gathered at the border fence and thousands more within half a mile of the vicinity, according to Israeli Defence Forces.
Clashes have also reportedly broken out between protesters and the Israeli Defense Forces in Bethlehem.
The first of Monday’s deaths was 21-year-old Anas Hamdan Qudeih, killed east of Khan Yunis, a spokesperson for the ministry said. A 29-year-old man, Mosaab Yousef Ibrahim Abu Laila, was later killed east of Jabalya. Some of the dead have yet to be identified. Six children under the age of 18, including one girl, are among the fatalities.
Amnesty International has called the Israeli violence in Gaza “an abhorrent violation of international law & human rights.”
Around half of all injuries were caused by live bullets while hundreds more were targeted with teargas, according to the ministry. The Palestinian Health Ministry claims that Israeli forces are directly targeting emergency services and journalists and are calling on citizens to urgently donate blood to help save the lives of those wounded.
Six journalists have reportedly been injured while covering Monday’s demonstrations, according to the Journalist Support Committee.
Meanwhile, the IDF said Israeli Air Force planes targeted Hamas posts near Jabalya after its soldiers came under fire in the area.
The latest deaths bring the number killed since the Great March of Return protests began six weeks ago to 97.
Dr. Mkhaimer Abuseda, professor of political sciences at Alazhar University in Gaza, told RT that the relocation of the US embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem is “a very sad day for the Palestinians, reminding them of their first Nakba some 70 years ago.”
“It seems to me that the Palestinians have decided that the US is no longer an honest broker in the MidEast peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis,” he said, adding that it will likely lead to further Palestinian rage and resistance.
Scuffles have reportedly broken out outside the new US embassy in Jerusalem as the inauguration ceremony took place inside.
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag has condemned Monday’s violence, claiming the US, as well as Israel, is responsible for the “massacre” because of their “unjust decision” to move the embassy.
Tuesday marks the commemoration of Nakba Day, a term which Palestinians use to describe their forced mass exodus from their homes during the establishment of the State of Israel. It is celebrated among Israelis as Independence Day. Thousands of people have gathered near the border to take part in Monday’s protests.
Huge demonstrations are expected to mark the May 15 event, which brings to a close the six-week Great March of Returndemonstrations.
The IDF dropped leaflets warning people in Gaza to stay away from the security fence ahead of Monday’s protests. Demonstrators in North Gaza brought down an IDF drone that was allegedly dropping fire bombs on tents, according to the Great Return March movement.