Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as “a great day for peace”.
An incredible statement considering his military had just killed at least 58 Palestinians (including six children) and wounded up to 2,700 more.
“Shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire in #Gaza must stop now. The right to life must be respected. Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account. The int'l community needs to ensure justice for victims” – #Zeid. pic.twitter.com/hBb7825Sp8
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) May 14, 2018
Palestine was protesting the opening of the United States’ embassy to Israel in Jerusalem.
In December, US President Donald Trump announced he would be moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as it was “time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”.
Palestine claims Jerusalem to be its capital however, and global leaders — including Pope Francis and close allies Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron — warned Trump that imposing himself on the historical dispute was pouring gasoline on an already uncontrollable fire.
UN Sectary-General Antonio Guterres said at the time: “I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians.”
Despite this, on Sunday, first daughter Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and a delegation of a dozen Congressman landed in Israel ahead of a dedication ceremony on Monday.
Before the formalities could take place, 40,000 Palestinians converged on the Gaza-Israeli border on Monday in demonstration.
Israeli forces then opened fire and used tear gas in what has been described as a “shocking” and “outrageous” attack. A number of countries including Turkey and South Africa have already recalled their ambassadors to Israel.
“Shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire in #Gaza must stop now,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein wrote in a message published on the UN human rights Twitter account.
“The right to life must be respected. Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account. The int’l community needs to ensure justice for victims – #Zeid.”
Amnesty International added, “We are witnessing an abhorrent violation of international law and human rights in Gaza… This must end immediately.”
We are witnessing an abhorrent violation of international law & human rights in #Gaza. 38 confirmed dead, including 6 children, with close to 2000 people injured. Many are reporting injuries to the head and chest. Over 500 injured with live ammunition. This must end immediately.
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) May 14, 2018
Trump and Netanyahu defend Israeli response
Undeterred by the mass loss of lives just hours earlier, Netanyahu took to the stage at the opening of the embassy to declare it a “great day for peace”.
This is “a great day for Israel, it’s a great day for America,” Netanyahu said just after 5pm (local time), “but I believe it’s also a great day for peace.”
“You can only build peace on truth. And the truth is that Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish state.”
In reference to the massacre, Netanyahu said: “Our brave soldiers are protecting the borders of Israel as we speak today.”
Like the Israeli leader, the Trump administration has exclusively blamed Palestine’s militant group Hamas for the horrific bloodshed.
“The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,” deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah told reporters. “Israel has the right to defend itself.”