Israelis kill more than 50 Palestinians in Gaza protests
Israeli soldiers on Monday killed 52 Palestinians demonstrating along the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip and wounded more than 2,400 in the bloodiest day in the enclave since the 2014 war with Israel, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
An estimated 35,000 Palestinians gathered on the edges of Gaza as the U.S. Embassy opened in Jerusalem, fanning out along the fence in the largest demonstrations yet.
At a gathering point east of Gaza City, organizers urged demonstrators to burst through the fence, telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions, even as they were reinforcing them.
At the barrier, young men threw stones and tried to launch kites carrying flames in hopes of burning crops on the other side. Most of the demonstrators, though, were peaceful, protesting the loss of their homes and villages and the embassy move.
Occasional sporadic gunfire could be heard over the noise of the crowd, and a constant stream of ambulances roared back and forth from the fence, ferrying away the wounded. Hospital workers said they were overwhelmed.
“We are at a critical point now,” said Ayman al-Sahbani, the head of the emergency department at Gaza Hospital. “I don’t know how we will manage this number of people. How long can this go on? How long?”
Earlier in the day, he said that his hospital could cope with about 200 or 300 gunshot injuries. By 6 p.m., around 400 had been brought in. “A lot of people need operations, but the operation rooms are full.”
Nirma Attalah, 29, said the deaths were just galvanizing Gaza residents to keep on demonstrating despite weeks of losses.
“My brother was shot in the head in this place,” she said, adding it was two weeks earlier. She had come on Monday with her whole extended family to the protest.
“We are here for Jerusalem, for Palestinian land,” she said.
Israel dropped leaflets urging Palestinians to stay away from the fence.
“Save your lives and work on building your futures,” the leaflets said.
Farther from the fence, food stalls sold snacks, sandwiches and juice, while loud music played in an oddly carnival-like atmosphere.
“People have come out of the rubble to say we will not forget our rights,” said Yousef Abu Saleh, 25. “The American administration is adopting the Israeli story and stealing our right of return.”
While some said they would abide by official calls to keep the demonstrations peaceful, others talked about their enthusiasm to break into Israel and wreak havoc.
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