41 Palestinians Killed This Morning In Jerusalem Embassy Protests

Palestinian demonstrators take cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest against the U.S. move of its embassy to Jerusalem, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip.   Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Tens of thousands of Palestinians are protesting the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, and Israeli army forces have killed 41 protesters, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The ministry also says more than 1,000 people have been hurt in demonstrations and clashes.

More than 35,000 people are protesting along the Gaza border, the Israel Defense Forces say. The army says it killed three protesters who were trying to set a bomb next to the security fence in Rafah. It’s the most deaths in one day the area has seen since the summer of 2014, when more than 2,000 Palestinians died.

The number of casualties rose steadily on Monday, as the opening of the American embassy at 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) neared.

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As news of the violence spread, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – who is slated to visit President Trump in Washington on Friday – said he is “particularly worried” about what he called “the high number of people killed,” according to the AP.

The embassy’s controversial opening comes as Israel marks its creation 70 years ago – an event that Palestinians refer to as Nakba – Catastrophe – because that development also turned more than 700,000 Palestinians into refugees.

“A great day for Israel!” President Trump tweeted on Monday. He also told his followers to watch Fox News for coverage of the embassy’s opening.

Discussing the dozens of deaths today, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that the rising number “doesn’t indicate anything – just as the number of Nazis who died in the World War doesn’t make Nazism something you can explain or understand. There is one truth.”

That quote comes from Haaretz, which says Erdan also blames Hamas for encouraging a “cynical and malicious use of bloodshed.”

Palestinian demonstrators run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest against the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City.  Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Trump announced last December that he would break with the consensus of America’s allies and decades of tradition by recognizing Jerusalem as the official capital, and moving the embassy there from Tel Aviv.

“The rioters are hurling firebombs & explosive devices, burning tires, throwing rocks, & attempting to ignite fires in Israeli territory,” the army said via Twitter. “IDF troops are responding with riot dispersal means and fire, and are operating according to standard operating procedures.”

Both sides of the conflict had been preparing for today’s events. In Hamas-ruled Gaza, violent protests have erupted every Friday since March, venting anger over Israeli’s blockade. The Israeli Defense Forces say that terrorists are using civilians to cover their actions; military jets have been dropping leaflets warning Palestinians not to come near the security fence.

“We are witnessing an abhorrent violation of international law & human rights in Gaza,” Amnesty International said of Monday’s violence. The organization says six of the dead are children, and more than 500 people were wounded by live ammunition, adding, “This must end immediately.”

A much calmer demonstration took place in the streets outside the new U.S. embassy’s location in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood. There, protesters marched, chanted slogans, waved Palestinian flags and held up signs, amid a large security presence.

The U.S. delegation visiting Israel for the opening includes the president’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, along with Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and Ambassador David Friedman.

On Sunday, that group dined with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the Israeli leader also welcomed Florida Gov. Rick Scott, along with members of Congress, including Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Joe Wilson.

As NPR’s Camila Domonoske reported when Trump announced the change in December, the president said that “his announcement does not mean the U.S. is taking a position on any possible future peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians or on the ‘final status’ of Jerusalem after such talks.”

“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious,” Trump said. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.”

To thank Trump for his decision, Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, renamed a square near the new U.S. outpost. Secretary Mnuchin received a plaque today bearing its new name: “United States Square in honor of President Donald J. Trump.”

Indonesian Christian Church-Bombing Family Recently Returned ISIS Volunteers In Syria

Indonesia church attacks: Family of bombers ‘had been to Syria’

The police said the family were among hundreds of Indonesians, who had returned from Syria, where IS has been fighting government forces.

Debris are seen outside Santa Maria church where an explosion went off in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia. (AP)

 

By IANS

JAKARTA: A family of six, who carried out three church bombings in Indonesia killing 13 persons, had returned from Syria, police said.

The Islamic State (IS) terror group has claimed responsibility for the attacks that took place on Sunday, the BBC reported.

A mother and two daughters blew themselves up at a church, while the father and two sons targeted two others in Indonesia’s second city, Surabaya.

National police chief Tito Karnavian said they belonged to an IS-inspired network, Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

The police said the family were among hundreds of Indonesians, who had returned from Syria, where IS has been fighting government forces, the BBC reported.

No details were given about the family’s alleged involvement in that conflict.

The bombings are the deadliest in Indonesia in more than a decade, and also left more than 40 people injured.

Visiting the scene of one of the attacks, President Joko Widodo described them as “barbaric”, adding that he had ordered police to “look into and break up networks of perpetrators”.

The police identified the father as Dita Oepriarto, saying he was the head of a JAD cell in the area. He reportedly dropped off his wife, Puji Kuswati, and their two daughters — aged nine and 12 — at Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church, where they blew themselves up.

He then drove off, launching his own bomb-laden car into the grounds of Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church, the police said.

The sons — aged 16 and 18 — rode motorcycles into Santa Maria Catholic Church, and detonated explosives they were carrying. It was their attack that came first, at around 7.30 a.m. The other two attacks followed five minutes apart, the police said.

Later on Sunday, another bomb exploded at an apartment complex in Surabaya, killing three persons. East Java’s police chief, Mahfud Arifin, said that those killed were the perpetrators, not victims.

It is not yet known if this bombing was connected to the other attacks.

Officials reportedly foiled attacks against other churches, too. Also on Sunday, police said they killed four suspected members of JAD in Cianjur, in West Java province, and arrested two others.