The Israeli military said some in the crowds were planting or hurling explosives, and many were flying flaming kites into Israel. Outside the Nahal Oz kibbutz, just across from protests east of Gaza City, emergency workers raced to try to extinguish a rapidly spreading wildfire caused by one incendiary kite, as four others could be seen sailing overhead.
Demonstrations mark U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem.
Even as American and Israeli officials prepared to celebrate President Trump’s move of the embassy to Jerusalem — which previous American administrations have been unwilling to do — thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in protest.
In the West Bank, Palestinians marched at midday in cities from Hebron to Nablus. Outside the Qalandiya refugee camp north of Jerusalem, youths released bunches of black balloons that carried aloft black Palestinian flags, bespeaking their disdain for the American move.
Clashes pitting demonstrators throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails against security forces firing tear gas and rubber bullets began even before hundreds of marchers had arrived there from Ramallah.
Many Israelis see the relocation of the embassy as simply acknowledging that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. But Palestinians, who hope to see the eastern part of Jerusalem become the capital of a Palestinian state, see the move as an abdication of any vestige of American impartiality in determining the region’s future.
The embassy opening was set to begin at 4 p.m., with the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, among the dignitaries attending, as well as a small contingent of Republican lawmakers.
A bigger clash is planned for Tuesday.
The mass protests in Gaza, promoted by Hamas, were expected to peak on Tuesday with an effort by thousands of people to cross the fence, despite warnings from Israel, possibly setting the stage for more bloodshed.
The demonstrations were originally meant to protest the economic blockade by Israel of Gaza, the impoverished region governed by Hamas. Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, have joined in the economic squeeze that has left Gazans increasingly desperate.
The timing is no accident — May 15 is observed by Palestinians as the anniversary of what they call the nakba, or catastrophe. It marks the expulsion or flight from the newly formed Jewish state of hundreds of thousands of Arabs in 1948, who have been unable to return or reclaim property they left behind.
Some of the demonstrators have thrown gasoline bombs or rolled burning tires toward Israeli soldiers, and Israeli security forces have said that some of the Palestinians who were killed were armed with semiautomatic rifles.
The demonstrations at the Gaza fence have taken place primarily on Fridays since March 30, and have already left dozens of people dead and thousands injured.