Death in Gaza, New Embassy in Jerusalem, and Peace as Distant as Ever

JERUSALEM — Across the Gaza Strip on Monday morning, loudspeakers on minarets urged Palestinians to hurry the fence bordering Israel, the place they had been met by military snipers. At least 58 had been killed and hundreds injured, native officers stated — the worst day of carnage there since Israel invaded Gaza in 2014.

Hours later, a beaming Ivanka Trump helped unveil a stone marker etched together with her father’s identify on the brand new American Embassy in Jerusalem, protecting his marketing campaign promise to formally acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. An viewers of 800 non secular conservatives and right-wing politicians from each nations sang “Hallelujah.”

“What a glorious day,” exulted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The two scenes, solely an hour’s drive aside, illustrated the chasm dividing Israelis and Palestinians greater than at any second in current historical past.

For generations, each side of the battle have been locked in competing, mutually negating narratives, with solely sporadic sparkles of hope for peace regardless of the efforts of an extended record of presidents and secretaries of state.

Now, with the militant Hamas motion hanging on to regulate of Gaza, and Mr. Netanyahu backed by President Trump, neither aspect is even listening to the opposite, and the Palestinians have lumped the United States along with Israel as an overt adversary.

Responsibility for the violence on Monday rested “squarely with Hamas,” stated Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, for “intentionally and cynically provoking” Israel by urging Palestinians to storm the border fence. “Israel has the right to defend itself,” he stated.

In Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, deputy chief of Hamas, blamed the United States for inciting the violence by transferring the embassy to Jerusalem, reversing many years of American coverage and defying worldwide consensus. “The American administration bears responsibility for all consequences following the implementation of this unjust decision,” he stated.

The two sides had been in equally completely different worlds when talking of how the embassy opening would have an effect on the moribund peace course of.

Palestinians, who hope to see the japanese a part of Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, see the embassy transfer as an abdication of any vestige of American impartiality in figuring out the area’s future. Since Mr. Trump introduced the transfer in December, Palestinian leaders have flatly rejected the thought of peace talks underneath American auspices.

But on the embassy dedication, Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, predicted that “when there is peace in this region, we will look back upon this day and will remember that the journey to peace started with a strong America recognizing the truth.”

Mr. Netanyahu spoke of peace with “all our neighbors,” praising Mr. Trump and his workforce as truth-tellers for acknowledging what he referred to as the truth that Israel’s capital was an “eternal, undivided” Jerusalem.

“A peace that is built on lies will crash on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality,” Mr. Netanyahu stated.

With evangelical pastors preaching and Sheldon G. Adelson, the influential Jewish Republican donor who had pressed Mr. Trump to maneuver the embassy, in the entrance row, the one reference to the Gaza violence got here when Mr. Kushner stated that “those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution.”

For Israelis, the day was one many had dreamed of for generations. Regardless of their politics, it appeared unjust that the worldwide group refused to see Jerusalem as their capital — a place they noticed as a denial of town’s Jewish historical past.

For Palestinians, the embassy transfer’s timing on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence — the eve of the day they commemorate the expulsion or flight of a whole lot of hundreds of Palestinians from their houses in what turned Israel — turned the point of interest of demonstrations alongside the Gaza fence for 2 months main as much as it.

By midafternoon east of Gaza City on Monday, the scene on the fence resembled a pitched battle — a chaotic panorama of black smoke, wailing sirens, streams of tear fuel and recurring gunfire. Emergency staff with stretchers carried off a stream of injured folks, many with leg wounds, some having been shot in the stomach. A quantity had been youngsters.

A voice on a loudspeaker urged the gang ahead: “Get closer! Get closer!”

The cost was usually led by ladies dressed in black, waving Palestinian flags and urging others to comply with. “We don’t want just one or two people to get closer,” stated an aged lady clutching a shoulder bag and a flag. “We want a big group.”

Some in the crowds had been planting or hurling explosives, Israel stated, and many had been flying flaming kites into Israel: At least one kite exterior the Nahal Oz kibbutz, throughout the fence from Gaza City, ignited a wildfire.

After noon prayers, the ambiance grew much more charged when officers from Hamas and different militant factions addressed the worshipers, urging them into the fray and claiming — falsely, to all appearances — that the fence had been breached and that Palestinians had been flooding into Israel.

Hamas officers vowed that the protests would proceed, but in addition hinted at the potential for a navy strike at Israel by the group’s navy wing, the Qassam brigades, a response that would result in one other Gaza warfare.

Israel stated no Palestinians had crossed the fence, however stated it had repulsed a number of unsuccessful makes an attempt by Hamas to have armed fighters slip throughout into Israel and wreak havoc — which Israel has maintained all alongside has been the true navy goal of Hamas.

At least three separate squads of armed fighters “tried to use the commotion and smoke and dynamics of the riots as concealment, and then launched an attack on the fence,” stated Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces.

One Israeli soldier was wounded by shrapnel from what was believed to be an explosive system, he stated, and a wide range of explosives had been hurled on the Israelis by Palestinians. There had been “numerous shots” fired at Israeli troopers, the military stated.

The makes an attempt to breach the fence expanded from 5 areas in earlier protests to 13, Colonel Conricus stated, calling Monday’s motion an “unprecedented level of violence.”

Israel responded with gunfire and tear fuel, and Israeli jets struck 5 targets in a Hamas navy coaching facility in the northern Gaza Strip, and two different Hamas navy positions in the world had been hit by an plane and a tank.

Israel has made clear all through the protests that it holds Hamas answerable for any violence emanating from Gaza, and Colonel Conricus made no apologies for the physique rely. “Hamas is killing Gaza,” he stated. “We, on the other hand, are defending our homes.”

Israel’s navy response restored worldwide consideration to the Palestinian trigger with every one-sided casualty report, and revived Hamas’s flagging political fortunes.

The rival Palestinian Authority was left to look reactive and meek by comparability. Indeed, protests on the West Bank on Monday had been pretty uneventful, and the authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, gave an unusually brief speech addressing the Gaza loss of life toll, calling for 3 days of mourning, a one-day strike, and terming the brand new embassy “an American settlement outpost in East Jerusalem.”

One clear loser, veterans of Israeli-Palestinian talks stated, was peace in the area, which appeared ever extra distant.

“Israel claims all of Jerusalem, and is doing their best to ensure it remains that way,” stated Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator in Republican and Democratic administrations. “And the Trump administration is validating that in a way no other administration has.”

The American Embassy, he stated, is the brand new image of that partnership.

Hamas and different jihadist teams have “a national and religious issue around which to rally: defense of Jerusalem,” Mr. Miller stated. “The embassy is now the physical manifestation of that campaign.”

Reporting was contributed by Declan Walsh, Iyad Abuheweila and Ibrahim El-Mughrabi from Gaza City, Isabel Kershner from Kfar Aza, Israel, and Rami Nazzal from Ramallah, West Bank.

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