Monday presented a jarring split screen between U.S. and Israeli officials jubilantly inaugurating a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and Palestinian protesters being shot and gassed by Israeli forces at the Gaza border, a few miles away. Israeli forces shot dead 57 people, wounded 2,700 more, and a small child died after inhaling tear gas, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and White House adviser, briefly alluded to the protests in his speech at the embassy ceremony, but for some reason, the White House removed that section from its official transcript.
Kushner said in his speech, which was broadcast on TV, that "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." The Palestinians have been protesting a crippling blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt, which has pushed unemployment in the occupied territory to over 40 percent and prompted food and electricity shortages. Before Monday's deaths, which Gaza officials say include six minors, Israeli snipers had killed nearly 50 Palestinian protesters.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah blamed Hamas, which controls Gaza, for the "tragic deaths," arguing that "Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response" by Palestinians, some of whom threw rocks and primitive explosives. Amnesty International said Israeli use of live ammunition against protesters was an "abhorrent violation of international law and human rights," Egypt and other Arab nations condemned Israel's killing of Palestinians, and United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein decried the “shocking killing of dozens."