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SCORES of Palestinians were killed and thousands injured as Israeli troops opened fire on demonstrations marking today’s relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Palestinian leaders accused Israeli forces of a “massacre” against unarmed protesters who were gunned down in Gaza as they demonstrated against the inauguration of the new US embassy.
Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, which represents Palestinians in Israel, condemned the attacks as “a bloodbath,” with live ammunition used against demonstrators, including women and children.
“A massacre is taking place against unarmed civilians in Gaza … the Israeli government must be held accountable. Stop the massacre,” pleaded Palestinian MP Ahmad Tibi in the Knesset.
The Palestinian Authority had designated yesterday a “day of rage” in protest at the “provocative” relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which both Israel and Palestine claim as their capital but whose status was meant to be decided in peace negotiations.
The move has been branded a major threat to global security.
Thousands took part in demonstrations across Palestine, with large marches in Gaza and the West Bank and large numbers of Israeli security services mobilised.
The demonstrations followed six weeks of protest at the fence put up by Israel along the border of the blockaded Gaza Strip, calling for the right of Palestinians to return to land seized by Israel. Almost 50 people have been killed and thousands injured as Israeli forces have responded by shooting unarmed demonstrators. Children are numbered among the dead.
Today Israel’s security forces blocked coaches of demonstrators from leaving the Old City of Jerusalem as they made their way to protest at the embassy opening and thousands of police officers were deployed in Jerusalem.
The 57-member state Organisation of Islamic Co-operation condemned the “illegal decision” to move the embassy which it said was “an attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people, which undermines the standing of the United Nations and rule of international law and thus represents an affront to international peace and security.”
It said the US had shown “utter disdain and disrespect” to Palestine and concluded that its actions “invalidated its role as a broker in any future peace efforts.”
Egypt blasted “the targeting of unarmed Palestinian civilians by the Israeli occupation forces” and warned of escalating tensions in the occupied territories.
Cairo reaffirmed its support for the “legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” and their right to “establish their independent state with its capital in East Jerusalem.”
Britain’s minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt shamelessly claimed the demonstrations were being “hijacked by extremist elements,” while failing to condemn Israel.
“Extremely saddened by loss of life in Gaza today. Concerned peaceful protests are being exploited by extremist elements. Urge restraint in use of live fire. Violence is destructive to peace efforts. UK remains committed to a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital,” he said in a statement.
Further demonstrations will take place today to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba (catastrophe) — the date on which almost one million Palestinians were forced from their homes in 1948 as zionist fighters forcibly established the state of Israel.
Protests will also take place in cities across the world with an emergency demonstration taking place in London today at 5.30pm organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.
Stop the War convener Lindsey German said: “This massacre should be immediately met with international condemnation and with protests in solidarity.
“We demand that Theresa May’s government condemns the actions of Trump and [Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu in the strongest terms and that the British government stops all arms sales to Israel.”
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said that Labour “unreservedly condemns the Israeli government” for the killings on the Gaza border.
She called for international pressure on the Israeli premier to “lift the blockade on Gaza and end Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.
“No longer can Netanyahu act as a law unto himself, under the protection of the Trump administration, whose decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem today has further inflamed the situation,” Ms Thornberry said.
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