- Israeli forces and Palestinians have been clashing in increasingly deadly protests along the border in Gaza while President Donald Trump’s administration has failed to promote peace.
- The clashes have been going on since March 30, but on Monday took a deadly turn when 58 were killed and thousands wounded.
- Trump’s family and senior advisers visited Jerusalem to open an interim US embassy there on Monday, but avoided spreading a message that both Israel and Palestinians could celebrate.
Israeli forces and Palestinians, some members of the terror organisation Hamas, were set for massive clashes on Tuesday after months of protesting have culminated in dozens of deaths and drawn airstrikes from Israel’s air force.
On Monday, Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinian protesters and injured about 2,700 with live gunfire, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. On Tuesday, Israel said its jets bombed Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, killing 11, while tanks targeted another two posts, according to Israel’s military.
Tuesday marks the final day of the protests that started March 30 called the “March of the Return.” While the protest’s organisers maintain it’s a nonviolent demonstration, protesters have attempted to breach Israel’s borders with bombs and flaming kites intended to spark fires on the Israeli side.
Hamas moved among the protesters and made violent attempts to enter Israel, and it has posted videos of such incidents. Hamas avowedly seeks the destruction of Israel and speaks of “the Return” as the removal of Jewish people in the region, and their replacement with Palestinians, something Israel won’t seriously entertain.
Trump’s peace push looking like an afterthought
With such a bitter and deep divide between the sides in the ongoing conflict, leadership from President Donald Trump’s administration has been conspicuously absent.
While Trump’s daughter and son-in-law attended the opening of an interim US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday – the most violent day of protesting yet – they delivered a message that spoke to the Israeli side only.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner spoke of Jerusalem being Israel’s capital but failed to mention that the eastern part of the divided city belonged to Palestinians and could one day be its capital. Most serious maps drawn up for a two-state solution to the crisis call for such borders and capitals.
The Trump administration has taken no steps to assuage Palestinian fears that Israel seeks to continue to colonize and push its people away from the holy city. Israel said Hamas has used those fears to stoke protests, which it meets with lethal force.
The Isreal Policy Forum statement called Monday’s embassy opening a “missed opportunity to affirm that American policy remains that Jerusalem will eventually be a shared capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state.”
“Doing so would demonstrate the US commitment to a two-state solution and turn today from solely an Israeli celebration into one that can be shared by both sides,” the statement went on.
While France and the UK called for Israel to restrain itself in protecting its borders, Trump’s White House called for no such restraint and blamed Hamas, not Israel, for the killings.
Trump promised during his campaign to push hard for peace between Israel and Palestinians, and appointed Kushner to handle the tricky issue, but so far has cut funding to the Palestinians more legitimate government, the Palestinian Authority, and solidly supported Israel’s use of force even in light of mounting deaths along the border.
“It’s ludicrous to think Jared was ever going to bring peace to Israel/Palestine,” Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, wrote on Newspicks. “Trump said it well – walls work, and nowhere do they work better than in Israel. As long as you’re not Palestinian, that’s not a problem.”
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