JERUSALEM – As the new U.S. embassy was inaugurated in Jerusalem May 14, violence broke out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers.
International media reported that in Gaza, at least 52 people were killed, including five under the age of 18, and some 2,000 were injured. The death toll was expected to rise.
Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and now feel that the U.S. cannot be a fair broker in the peace process with Israel.
Many Israelis see opening the embassy as the long-awaited official recognition of Jerusalem as their capital and the fulfillment of a promise made by numerous U.S. presidents to move the building from Tel Aviv.
Israel accuses many of the protesters of being members of Hamas and of using Palestinians as pawns in the violent protests along the Gaza border, which began March 30. The Israeli Defense Forces have said that numerous protesters have been caught trying to break through the border fence that imprisons them, and fire-lit kites sent by Palestinians across the border have caused millions of dollars of damage to crops when they have landed on Israeli farmland.
At St. Joseph Parish in Jifna, West Bank, May 14, Father Firas Aridah tolled bells at noon to mourn those injured and killed in clashes, to mark the commemoration of the day Palestinians call al-Naqba – their catastrophe – and to lament the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence; Palestinians commemorate that 250,000-300,000 Arabs living in the British mandate of Palestine were forced off their lands and homes at the time.
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