58 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces; here's what we know about tensions in Mideast

58 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces; here's what we know about tensions in Mideast
Posted at 10:53 AM, May 15, 2018

The US officially relocated its embassy to Jerusalem on Monday, formally upending decades of American foreign policy in a move that was met with clashes and protests along the Gaza-Israeli border.

Here is what we know:


At least 58 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during Monday and Tuesday clashes, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Israeli soldiers have killed more than 100 people since the latest wave of protests began in March, according to a CNN count based on the Palestinian Ministry of Health figures.

The dead include 8-month-old Laila Anwar Ghandour, who died of tear-gas asphyxiation, the Ministry of Health said. Most of the dead were killed by Israeli fire near the border.


More than 2,700 people suffered injuries, according to the Palestinian officials.

Monday's death toll was the biggest number of fatalities suffered in one day since the latest round of demonstrations began more than six weeks ago. The previous high was 17, which happened on the day the protests started on March 30.

The scene

Around 35,000 people -- who the Israel Defense Forces describes as "violent rioters" -- assembled in 12 locations along the border fence separating Gaza and Israel, according to the IDF.

Thousands more were gathered in a tent city about a kilometer from the border.

The military said protesters threw Molotov cocktails, burned tires and threw stones at Israeli soldiers along the fence.

An Israeli jet struck five targets in a "military training facility belonging to Hamas" in northern Gaza on Monday, the Israeli military said.

While Gaza has seen the majority of the violence, protesters are facing off with Israeli authorities in the West Bank as well, but there were no deaths reported there Monday.

The Pentagon, in conjunction with the US State Department, has increased Marine Corps security forces at a number of US embassies in the Middle East and Africa in light of the unrest, according to several military officials.

What they're saying

  • US President Donald Trump gave remarks via a prerecorded video: "Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital, yet for many years, we failed to acknowledge the obvious: the plain reality that Israel's capital is Jerusalem."
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized Israel's actions in Gaza as acts of self-defense against Hamas. "Every country has an obligation to defend its borders," Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced a general strike and, beginning Tuesday, three days of mourning for those killed in Gaza. "Today is one of the most ferocious days our people have seen," he said. "Before we were suffering from illegal Israeli settlements. Now it's another illegal settlement by Israel and the United States."
  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israeli "aggressions to the Palestinian people," and recalled ambassadors from Israel and the US, according to official Palestinian news agency WAFA. He was quoted by state-run Anadolu Agency saying "Israel is a terrorist state" and "what Israel is doing is a genocide."
  • Deputy US Secretary of State John Sullivan, who led the US delegation to the embassy opening in Jerusalem, said, "Gazans should be allowed to protest peacefully." Sullivan further called the violence "horrific" and said of the protesters, "To have them used and provoked for violent purposes by Hamas is despicable."
  • French President Emmanuel Macron condemned "the violence of the Israeli forces against protesters," a Élysée Palace statement read.
  • The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its "strong condemnation" of the use of force by Israel against Palestinian civilians, according to the official Saudi press agency.
  • The Australian government called on Israel to "refrain from excessive use of force" and urged Palestinian protesters to refrain from violence.
  • The African Union Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat "strongly condemns the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Army."
  • South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Israel. A statement from the South African Foreign Ministry condemned "the latest violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border."
  • Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner said, "We believe it is possible for both sides to gain more than they give — so that all people can live in peace — safe from danger, free from fear, and able to pursue their dreams."
  • "We remain committed to advancing a lasting and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
  • "Every nation should have the right to choose its capital. I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
  • The United States' decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem brings Israel closer to "annihilation," a high-ranking Iranian official said.
  • United Nations Relief and Works Agency said it was "dismayed by the deaths and injuries in Gaza today of dozens of civilians, including children."
  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres is "profoundly alarmed by the sharp escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory," one of his spokesmen said in a statement.
  • Kuwait has requested a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday to address the situation in the Middle East and Gaza.
  • America can "not be trusted to be fair," and it is unclear where Trump is "taking the world and taking America," Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech in Beirut, Lebanon.
  • There is "no chance" Palestinians will engage in a US-led peace process, said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the United Nations.
  • White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said the violence doesn't hurt the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
  • The UN Human Rights chief called for an end to violent clashes in Gaza, saying in a tweet the killings "must stop now."
  • United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs coordinator Jamie McGoldrick said medical teams are "stretched to the limit and are running out of essential medical supplies."
  • Doctors Without Borders called on the Israeli army to stop using deadly force against demonstrators, saying their actions were "unacceptable and inhuman."


Trump announced the decision to move the embassy in December, when he formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It marked the fulfillment of a campaign promise he made to the pro-Israel group American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The embassy move is contentious for Palestinians, who hope to claim part of the city as their future capital, and for many in the Arab world, as it is home to some of the holiest sites in Islam. The city also is home to holy sites for Jews and Christians.

In 1995, Congress passed a law requiring America to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but every president since then has declined to make the move, citing national security interests.

The State Department noted that the opening takes place on the 70th anniversary of American recognition of the Israeli state, the day of its founding and a day Palestinians refer to as "The Catastrophe," referring to the hundreds of thousands of people who were expelled from, or fled, their homes during the war that surrounded the foundation of Israel.