Palestinian officials say at least 28 people have died in the latest round of protests.
The relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv was set for Monday, timed to the 70th anniversary of the formation of Israel — a move that many Israelis have celebrated but that has enraged Palestinians.
— Protests on Gaza Border Turn Bloody
A mass attempt by Palestinians to cross the border fence separating Israel from Gaza quickly turned violent, as Israeli soldiers responded with rifle fire.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians took part in the Gaza protests, which spread Monday to the West Bank, in opposition to the embassy move.
By 3 p.m., 28 Palestinians, including several teenagers, were dead and at least 1,000 were injured in Gaza, the Health Ministry said, as seven weeks of demonstrations reached a climax there. Israeli soldiers and snipers were using barrages of tear gas as well as live gunfire to keep protesters from entering Israeli territory.
The Israeli military said some in the crowds were planting or hurling explosives, and many were flying flaming kites into Israel. Outside the Nahal Oz kibbutz, just across from protests east of Gaza City, emergency workers raced to try to extinguish a rapidly spreading wildfire caused by one incendiary kite, as four others could be seen sailing overhead.
— Demonstrations Mark U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem
Even as U.S. and Israeli officials prepared to celebrate President Donald Trump’s move of the embassy to Jerusalem — which previous U.S. administrations have been unwilling to do — thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in protest.
In the West Bank, Palestinians marched at midday in cities from Hebron to Nablus. Outside the Qalandiya refugee camp north of Jerusalem, youths released bunches of black balloons that carried aloft black Palestinian flags, bespeaking their disdain for the U.S. move.
Clashes pitting demonstrators throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails against security forces firing tear gas and rubber bullets began even before hundreds of marchers had arrived there from Ramallah.
Many Israelis see the relocation of the embassy as simply acknowledging that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. But Palestinians, who hope to see the eastern part of Jerusalem become the capital of a Palestinian state, see the move as an abdication of any vestige of U.S. impartiality in determining the region’s future.
The embassy opening was set to begin at 4 p.m., with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, among the dignitaries attending, as well as a small contingent of Republican lawmakers.
— A Bigger Clash Is Planned for Tuesday.
The mass protests in Gaza, promoted by Hamas, were expected to peak Tuesday with an effort by thousands of people to cross the fence, despite warnings from Israel, possibly setting the stage for more bloodshed.
The demonstrations were originally meant to protest the economic blockade by Israel of Gaza, the impoverished region governed by Hamas. Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, have joined in the economic squeeze that has left Gazans increasingly desperate.
The timing is no accident — May 15 is observed by Palestinians as the anniversary of what they call the nakba, or catastrophe. It marks the expulsion or flight from the newly formed Jewish state of hundreds of thousands of Arabs in 1948, who have been unable to return or reclaim property they left behind.
Some of the demonstrators have thrown gasoline bombs or rolled burning tires toward Israeli soldiers, and Israeli security forces have said that some of the Palestinians who were killed were armed with semi-automatic rifles.
The demonstrations at the Gaza fence have taken place primarily on Fridays since March 30, and have already left dozens of people dead and thousands injured.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.