Monday, May 14, 2018

Today, Great March of Return demonstrations see tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza gathering along the border fence to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, to protest the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem today, and to call for the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes. IDF troops violently disperse demonstrations near Khan Yunis, Rafah, Gaza City, al-Bureij refugee camp, and Jabaliya refugee camp; 58 Palestinians are killed, including 3 who allegedly attempted to plant an explosive along the border near Rafah, and more than 1,300 are injured. After unidentified assailants open fire on IDF patrols along the border near Jabaliya refugee camp, the IAF conducts air strikes on Hamas posts near Jabaliya refugee camp, al-Bureij refugee camp, and Gaza City, causing moderate damage. The killings today bring the death toll related to the Great March of Return to 102. Elsewhere in the oPt, thousands of Palestinians gather across the West Bank and Jerusalem to protest the official opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem today. They also release 70 black balloons in Ramallah, marking the 70th anniversary of the Nakba. IDF troops violently disperse the protests at Qalandia checkpoint, Bethlehem, and Hebron; at least 2 Palestinians are injured. Meanwhile, IDF troops arrest 19 Palestinians during latenight raids in and around Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, and Hebron; and patrol near Jenin and Hebron. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 7 Palestinians during late-night raids in Issawiyya and the Old City. (AJ, EI, HA, JP, MEE, MNA, TOI, WAFA, YA 5/14; PCHR 5/17)

Hours after Israeli troops open fire on peaceful Palestinian protesters along the border fence in Gaza, senior U.S. and Israeli officials gather for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. In a recorded video, U.S. president Trump celebrates the opening and says the U.S. “remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement” between Israel and the Palestinians. Outside the ceremony, Israeli police violently disperse approximately 200 protesters, including Joint List MKs Ahmad Tibi, Dov Khenin, Jamal Zahalka, Yousef Jabareen, and Masud Ganaim; 12 Palestinians are arrested. (AJ, BBC, JP, MEE, NYT, TOI 5/14; EI 5/15)

In the evening, the Palestinian leadership convenes in Ramallah to discuss the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and the violence in Gaza. PA president Abbas calls the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem a “settlement outpost” and reiterates that he has no plans to engage in any U.S.-mediated peace talks “in any way, shape, or form.” The assembled officials decide to file a war crimes complaint against Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague over settlement construction in the West Bank. According to PLO secretary-general Erakat, they also agree to a number of other unspecified responses. (TOI 5/14; AP, YA 5/15)

The South African government recalls its ambassador to Israel and Turkey recalls its ambassadors from Israel and the U.S. in protest of the killings in Gaza today. “The victims were taking part in peaceful protests against the provocative inauguration of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem,” a South African statement reads. Meanwhile, the U.S. blocks the UNSC from adopting a Kuwait-backed statement condemning the deadly violence in Gaza and calling for an “independent and transparent investigation” into Israel’s actions. (ANA, TOI, WAFA 5/14; HA, TOI 5/15)

The Egyptian authorities open the Rafah border crossing in both directions for the 3d consecutive day. (AHR 5/14; OCHA 5/24)