President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by opening the U.S. embassy there for the first time ever on Monday. The move did not go over well with Palestinians who also consider Jerusalem to be their capital.
Until Monday, the U.S. embassy has been located in the much-less-disputed coastal city of Tel Aviv since 1966. Many Palestinians and Israelis see Trump’s designation of Jerusalem as the capital of the embattled country as a signal that America considers Jews, not Muslims, to be the rightful rulers of the land.
Such a move was expected to lead to a violent reaction from Palestinians, according to CNN in December. On Monday, that happened.
35,000 Palestinians protesters showed up at the border fence that separates the Gaza Strip — controlled by the terrorist organization Islamic Hamas — from the State of Israel. The protest rapidly escalated into widespread violence. While some demonstrators were simply shouting their objections, according to the Washington Post, others started throwing stones at Israelis while some tried to burn their crops by sending flaming kites over the fence.
As tensions escalated Monday, Palestinians organizers fooled the protesters by telling them to break through the fence because Israeli soldiers were in retreat. But in reality, as the mass of demonstrators pushed their way through, the Israelis were actually being reinforced.
With protesters now rushing at them, Israeli soldiers opened fire, killing over 50 Palestinians. More than 1,200 were wounded, the Associated Press reported. It’s unclear how many Palestinians were wounded by gunfire, tear gas, or other causes.
As a result, Israel has been accused of gunning down unarmed protesters, but Israel claims Hamas was using the protest to mask a full-fledged invasion of their country. The Israeli military pointed to three “armed terrorists” caught trying to plant a bomb to blow up the border fence, Fox News reported.
The Israeli Defense Forces explained, “An IDF patrol foiled a bomb-laying attack by a cell of three armed terrorists near Rafah, close to the border. This is a particularly violent protest point. The troops responded with fire at the terrorists. The terrorists were killed.”
Aside from the bombing attempt, Israeli said at the time, “Rioters are hurling pipe bombs and firebombs at IDF troops, burning tires, throwing stones and burning objects, with the intention of setting fires in Israel and hurting IDF troops,” according to The Times of Israel.
The White House also put the blame for the attack squarely on Palestinian Hamas, according to The Washington Times, saying the violence was stirred up as a "propaganda attempt."
Israel is frequently on high alert for attacks, especially rocket attacks from Gaza. According to israelhasbeenrocketfreefor.com, more than 25,000 rockets have been fired into Israel since 2001.