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Over 50 Palestinians killed as opening of US embassy in Jerusalem sparks riots nrest

Palestinians carry an injured man during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City
Palestinians carry an injured man during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin looks on as the US President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, unveils an inauguration plaque during the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem yesterday

By Fares Akram

Israeli soldiers have shot and killed at least 52 Palestinians and left another 1,200 injured during mass protests along the Gaza border.

It was the deadliest day in the region since a devastating 2014 cross-border war, and cast a shadow over the inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem.

In a show of anger fuelled by the embassy move, Palestinian protesters set tyres ablaze and hurled firebombs and stones toward Israeli troops across the border. Later, Israeli forces opened fire from tanks, sending protesters fleeing for cover.

The military said its troops came under fire in some areas, and claimed protesters had been attempting to break through the border fence. It said troops shot and killed three Palestinians who were trying to plant a bomb.

The UN human rights chief said on Twitter that "Israeli live fire in #Gaza must stop now", and demanded respect for human life.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein decried the "shocking killing of dozens" and the injury of hundreds by Israeli forces in the Palestinian areas.

Mr Zeid, a Jordanian prince who is leaving his post in August, said the international community needs to ensure justice for the victims.

US president Donald Trump said in a video message played at the new US embassy inauguration - which took place just 45 miles from the bloodshed on the Gaza border - that he remains committed to "facilitating a lasting peace agreement" between Israelis and Palestinians.

"A great day for Israel!" Mr Trump tweeted earlier.

However, yesterday's steadily climbing death toll and wall-to-wall condemnation of the embassy move by the Arab world raised new doubts about Mr Trump's ambitions to broker what he once said would be the Middle East "deal of the century".

By late afternoon, at least 52 Palestinians, including five minors, were killed, the Gaza health ministry said. A total of 1,204 were wounded by Israeli gunfire.

The ministry said this total included 116 people who were in serious or critical condition. At the embassy ceremony in Jerusalem, Mr Trump's son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser Jared Kushner placed the blame on the Gaza protesters.

He said: "As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution."

Mr Kushner and Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka led a high-powered American delegation that included the treasury secretary and four Republican senators.

The new embassy will temporarily operate from an existing US consulate, until a decision has been made on a permanent location.

Moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem - a key Trump campaign promise - infuriated the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as a future capital.

Downing Street yesterday restated Britain's disagreement with Mr Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Theresa May's official spokesman told a regular Westminster media briefing: "The Prime Minister said in December, when the announcement was first made, that we disagreed with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement.

"The British embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it."

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