The U.S. is ceremoniously opening its new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem at 4 p.m. local time, and by 2:30 p.m., at least 18 Palestinian protesters were shot dead by Israeli police along the Gaza border, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. At least 69 other Palestinians have been wounded by live fire, and 900 were wounded, the health ministry said. Israel's military estimates that 35,000 Palestinians are protesting along the border. Mass protests have been held along the Gaza border for weeks, and with the 16 fatalities reported so far Monday, 60 Palestinians have been killed since late March.
The Palestinians have been protesting the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt, and President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, not the internationally recognized Tel Aviv, has fueled anger. Palestinians claim occupied East Jerusalem as their future capital. Human rights groups have called Israel's allowing live fire against protesters approaching the border as unlawful, but Israel says it will do anything to protect the border along its occupied territories. The Israeli military moved to fortify the border and add troops ahead of Monday's embassy opening, which is happening 70 years after Israel was founded, an occasion Palestinians remember as the "nakba," or catastrophe.