As the new United States embassy was inaugurated in Jerusalem yesterday, 52 Palestinian protesters in Gaza were killed by Israeli soldiers. Source: CNS.
International media reported that in Gaza, at least 52 people were killed, including five under the age of 18, and some 2000 were injured. The death toll was expected to rise.
Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and now feel that the US cannot be a fair broker in the peace process with Israel.
Many Israelis see opening the embassy as the long-awaited official recognition of Jerusalem as their capital and the fulfillment of a promise made by numerous US presidents to move the building from Tel Aviv.
Israel accuses many of the protesters of being members of Hamas and of using Palestinians as pawns in violent protests along the Gaza border, which began March 30.
At St Joseph Parish in Jifna, West Bank, yesterday, Fr Firas Aridah tolled bells at noon to mourn those injured and killed in clashes, to mark the commemoration of the day Palestinians call al-Naqba – their catastrophe – and to lament the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence; Palestinians commemorate that 250,000-300,000 Arabs living in the British mandate of Palestine were forced off their lands and homes at the time.
“Jerusalem is at the heart of the conflict,” he said. “Opening the American embassy without resolving the conflict is going to the extreme. They can resolve the conflict of Jerusalem and then do whatever they want. But why just move the embassy to Jerusalem without resolving the conflict?”
The priest said although parishes in the Holy Land tell their parishioners to resist occupation by educating themselves and preparing for the future, people in Gaza see no future. He said he can stress to his school’s Christian and Muslim students that throwing stones is not worth dying for, but people in Gaza are desperate.
“They don’t have anything to lose,” he said. “They are not living in dignity.”