Dozens die in Gaza as US Embassy opens in Jerusalem
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah addressed the deaths of more than 50 Palestinian protesters at the White House press briefing just now and blamed the militant group Hamas for their deaths.
"The responsibility for these tragic deaths rest squarely with Hamas," Shah said, adding that "Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response."
He added: "As the Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo] said, Israel has the right to defend itself."
Israel, for its part, has said the demonstrations are orchestrated by Hamas and has insisted its forces are acting "according to standard operating procedures."
Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said he is "profoundly alarmed" by the violence along the fence separating Gaza and Israel.
Here's his full statement:
The Secretary-General is profoundly alarmed by the sharp escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and the high number of Palestinians killed and injured in the Gaza protests.Israel security forces must exercise maximum restraint in the use of live fire.Hamas and the leaders of the demonstrations have a responsibility to prevent all violent actions and provocations. With tensions high and more demonstrations expected in the coming days, it is imperative that everyone show the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life, including ensuring that all civilians and particularly children are not put in harm’s way. Hospitals report that essential medical supplies, drugs and equipment have already been exhausted. Humanitarian funding and improved access is urgently needed to meet these and other existing or emerging needs.The ongoing violence underscores the urgent need for a political solution. The Secretary-General reiterates that there is no viable alternative to the two-state solution, with Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace, each with its capital in Jerusalem.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israeli military actions near the border fence with Gaza, where more than 50 Palestinians were killed Monday.
“Every country has the duty to defend its borders," Netanyahu said in a tweet.
He blamed Hamas for sending thousands of people to break through the Gaza border fence in order to realize its goal of destroying Israel. Netanyahu added that “we will continue to act with determination to protect our sovereignty and our citizens”.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said the US can “not be trusted to be fair” following its embassy move to Jerusalem.
It is unclear where President Trump is “taking the world and taking America,” Nasrallah added in a televised speech in Beirut on Monday.
Nasrallah’s remarks came in reaction to the Trump Administration’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, along with the decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced a general strike and three-days of mourning — both to start Tuesday — for those killed in Gaza Monday.
The strike and days of mourning will also mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or the Catastrophe, the term used by Palestinians to mark the mass exodus which accompanied the founding of the state of Israel.
The Kuwait Mission has requested an urgent United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East and Gaza for Tuesday morning.
An Arab League official said it was “despicable” to see countries participating in the celebration of the US embassy move to Jerusalem, which he described as a “farce” and "a clear and flagrant violation of international law and Security Council resolutions."
“Respectable countries” have refused to participate in this “farce,” Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement posted on its website on Monday.
The killing of Palestinians today “should sound the alarm” for every country that doesn’t see anything wrong “in going along with immoral and illegal positions,” he added.
He called upon countries to "stand on the right side of history" and to avoid getting “implicated in positions that contradict the international unanimous rejection of the American decision.”
The decision to move the embassy “is an extremely dangerous step whose true repercussions” haven’t been realized by the US, he added.
Palestinians see that the US has abandoned “its historical role as an honest mediator in the conflict,” he said.
The Arab League will continue the “diplomatic battle to defend the identity, and the historical and religious status of Jerusalem,” he said.