While American and Israeli officials celebrate the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, Israeli military forces are massacring Palestinians protesting the widely condemned decision at the Gaza border. The death toll is rising so quickly that it will likely be outdated when you read this. As of 9:29 a.m. EST, Amnesty International reports that the death toll has risen to 41, with “close to 2,000 people injured”:
Around that same time, the White House tweeted Donald Trump’s video address, which was played at the ceremony. In it, he celebrated the new embassy and called for peace:
The Trump administration broke with decades of U.S. diplomacy last year when it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital over Tel Aviv. Palestinians also consider Jerusalem, a holy city for both Jews and Muslims, their capital, and the move further has disenfranchised stateless Palestinians. The U.N. General Assembly has rejected the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and implored other nations to do the same.
Jared Kushner, a vacant-looking boy the White House has put in charge of U.S.-Middle East relations because he is the president’s son in law, said at the ceremony: “Israel proves every day the boundless power of freedom. This land is the only land in the Middle East in which Jews, Muslims and Christians and people of all faiths participate and worship freely according to their beliefs.”
The Trump administration’s “peace” efforts during the ceremony apparently also included a blessing by Trump advisor and conservative evangelical pastor Rev. Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. Among other bigoted comments, Jeffress has called Islam “a false religion that is based on a false book that was written by a false prophet,” and told NBC News that “The Bible says this land belongs to the Jewish people—period.”
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Forces have justified the attacks on the protesters—who live in conditions described by human rights groups and world leaders as an open air prison—by saying they are preventing “terrorism.” The Guardian reports that Monday’s death toll (which is still climbing) is the “highest single-day death toll” among the “Great March of Return” protests that began in March, and the highest since 2014.
On Monday, Israeli forces killed “a 14-year-old boy, a medic and a man in a wheelchair who had been pictured on social media using a slingshot.”
More from The Guardian:
The military said it “thwarted a terror attack” when three people attempted to place an explosive device adjacent to the security fence in the south of Gaza. All three were killed. It also said Israeli aircraft struck Hamas military posts in Gaza after its troops were fired on from the northern Gaza Strip. It did not provide further details.
Haaretz foreign news desk head Asaf Ronel reports that the Gaza health system is “overwhelmed” by the injured and is calling for help from the international community:
Several journalists attending the ceremony commented on the disturbing dissonance between the celebratory words versus the violent onslaught happening at Israel’s border:
The president is, as ever, unconflicted by the bloodshed: