Violence erupted along the Israel-Gaza border Monday as tens of thousands of angry Palestinians gathered to protest the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
The protests are part of a broader Hamas-led campaign on the border that has resulted in dozens of deaths since it began on March 30th.
“[Monday] was the most violent day that we’ve seen here on the border since the war in 2014,” said Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall. “All day we heard gunfire…we saw airstrikes taking place in Gaza, we saw thick black smoke where the protestors were burning their tires, and we saw tear gas being dropped on protestors trying to disperse them – but it just didn’t work.”
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) conducted airstrikes on Hamas camps in the Gaza Strip and used live fire and tear gas to prevent protesters from crossing the border into Israel.
Israeli’s security service, Shin Bet, believes Hamas is using the protests as cover to launch an assault on the border. “From the information we have, it appears Hamas is encouraging and sending protestors to the border fence in order to carry out violent acts and damage security infrastructure,” said the agency, adding that Iran is funding the operation.
There have already been “significant attempts” to break through the border fence, reports IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, but “even if the fence is breached, we will be able to protect Israeli civilians from attempts to massacre or kidnap or kill them.”
Monday’s clashes resulted in 58 deaths and over 2,700 injuries. According to the IDF, three of those killed were attempting to detonate a bomb at the border.
The violence is expected to escalate Tuesday, when Palestinians observe “Nakba Day” during which they mourn what they consider the “catastrophe” of the creation of the state of Israel 70 years ago.
The purpose of Monday’s demonstrations was to “powerfully confront the embassy deal” and to “draw the map of return in blood,” said Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya, who promised the violence would continue. “The American administration bears responsibility for all consequences following the implementation of this unjust decision. This crime will not pass.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Trump Administration celebrated Monday as a success despite the protests.
“When there is peace in this region, we will look back upon this day and will remember that the journey to peace started with a strong America recognizing the truth,” said Jared Kushner, who attended the opening ceremony at the embassy in Jerusalem with his wife Ivanka Trump and Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin.
Editor’s note: The Palestinians do not need much of a reason to protest and attack the border. This will pass. Trump is taking all of the old negotiating positions off the table, and this is the only way to reset negotiations here.