05/14/2018, 18.18
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New US Embassy generates applause and clashes, with 41 dead in Gaza

Palestinians began protesting this morning at 11 am in the West Bank and Gaza. Police respond harshly with tear gas and stun grenades, and bullets in Gaza. For Israel’s Peace Now, the leadership celebrates the death of the two-state solution. The Americans "side with the Israelis, against the will of the peoples [of the world], above all the Palestinian people," says Palestinian activist Adel Misk.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) –  At 4.30 pm, Ivanka Trump unveiled the plaque of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighbourhood. At the same time, the death toll from protests in the Gaza Strip rose to 41, 37 in three hours.

Jared Kushner, adviser and son-in-law of President Trump, stressed the importance of Jerusalem as the centre and sacred place for Jews. He criticised the protests taking place outside the embassy and those over the past month and a half in the Gaza Strip. For him, the latter are “part of problem, not the solution”.

In a rhetorical vein, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "we have no better friends in the world, you stand for Israel and for Jerusalem. [. . .] Mr Trump, by recognising history, you made history." As this was said, those present at the ceremony rose and applauded.

Meanwhile, since 11 am, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been demonstrating against the new embassy along the borders between Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as well as the streets of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem itself.

The police reaction was harsh, with stun grenades and tear gas. In Gaza, Israel is reported to have bombed some Hamas outposts. Along the border, it has used live ammunitions, killing scores of Palestinians. With more than 1,600 wounded. Some of the victims are underage, including a 12-year-old.

In Israel itself, civil society groups have joined the protests. For Peace Now, the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem only reinforces the extreme positions on both sides, weakening the peace process.

"Our voice is critical especially when the leadership is celebrating the killing of the two states solution, when people are so depressed and don’t believe in the chances for peace we must raise our voice," said Hagit Ofran, head of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch team.

Echoing Ofran’s remarks, Palestinian peace activist Adel Misk says that "It is not acceptable for Israel and the United States to do what they want".

With most the international community speaking out against Trump's decision, he noted that only 56 countries agreed to participate in the inauguration ceremony.

Still, "I am surprised that some countries like Romania, who were once occupied, are taking part in such a ceremony."

What is more, the choice of the date "seems to have been done on purpose,” he explained. “For the ceremony, they picked the day of the anniversary of the Nakba, when we [Palestinians] demand the right of return [of refugees].”

For the activist, the United States has abandoned its role as mediators. "They side with the Israelis, against the will of the peoples [of the world], above all the Palestinian people".

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