Monday marked one of the deadliest days in Gaza since 2014. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Gaza death toll has reached 60 after Israeli forces unleashed live ammunition on Palestinian protesters on Monday, the highest death toll since the 2014 Gaza War. The New York Times reported more than 2,700 Palestinians were injured as well.
On Monday, Palestinians gathered a day ahead of "Yom e Nakba" — meaning "the day of catastrophe" in Arabic — which commemorates the forced exile of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. The protests coincided with President Donald Trump opening a new American embassy in Jerusalem, which arrives after Trump said that he would recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in December.
During the initiation of the new embassy on Monday, White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner held a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who called it "a glorious day." Flanked by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin ,who unveiled the new American embassy's plaque, the president's daughter said:
On behalf of the 45th president on [sic] the United States of America, we welcome you officially — and for the first time — to the embassy of the United States here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.
In New York, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, condemned the killings. "We condemn in the strongest term the atrocity by the Israeli occupying forces using this massive firepower against civilians who have the right to demonstrate peacefully, and they have been demonstrating peacefully," Mansour said.
"We condemn this action in the strongest possible terms," he added. "We demand that this action be stopped immediately, and we want those responsible to be brought to justice from the Israeli side because this is not allowed under the provisions of international law."
On news networks and on social media, many shared juxtaposed images of Ivanka Trump and her husband beaming with Netanyahu while scores of Palestinians could be seen trying to flee Israeli bullets and teargas. On Monday, journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous spoke on Democracy Now! saying, "A couple of doctors told me that [Israeli forces] are using fragmentation bullets, which break apart upon impact. And they have seen injuries with fist-sized holes in the exit wounds."
Kouddous added, "No one is carrying any weapons here. There are no bullets being fired by Palestinians on Israeli soldiers. There’s nothing I have seen that poses any threat to the Israeli military." But on Tuesday, the official Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson account tweeted a defense of Israeli action and said that the Israeli forces acted "in accordance with standard operating procedures."
Countless observers on Twitter criticized Israeli forces for killing Palestinian protesters, including American Palestinian human rights lawyer and assistant professor at George Mason University Noura Erakat. The human rights attorney appeared on CNN on Tuesday and said that Palestinians were being "gunned down like birds."
While speaking of the juxtaposition of photos where American and Israeli officials rejoiced while Palestinians tried to flee Israeli forces' attacks, Erakat told CNN anchor Becky Anderson, "We are basically enabling Israel to expand its settler enterprise across the West Bank, entrenching its presence in Jerusalem, which is predicated on Palestinian dispossession, removal, and exile; which is predicated on an equation where Palestinians can't exist as human beings."
"We are 70 years into a conflict," Erakat went on, "where the solutions that we have tried, which is to only satisfy Israel at the expense of Palestinian human rights, doesn't work. Now we need other solutions where all peoples can exist."