Gaza exploded in violence, and blood today when a protest by Palestinians turned into a mass attempt by thousands of people to cross the border fence separating Gaza from Israel. Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas, and rifle fire in an effort to prevent the Palestinians from entering Israel. Monday’s clashes and casualties have made it the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 Gaza war. The death toll stands at 58 and is expected to rise, with over 1300 men, women, and children injured to one degree or another.
Israel defended its actions, claiming it opened fire to maintain control of its border, and to prevent Hamas from using the protest as a distraction to filter operatives across the border and launch attacks on the Israeli side. Israel, of course, has the right to defend its borders from outside aggression. Hamas is responsible for launching dozens of attacks against Israel throughout the years. The Islamist militant organization controls governance in Gaza, and has a major influence over the Palestinian authority. Hamas is also backed in large part by Iran, making the true motivation behind today’s protest suspect, given what has been happening between Iran and Israel in recent weeks.
Monday’s protest in Gaza was the latest in a series of demonstrations over the last seven weeks to protest Israel’s economic blockade against Gaza. Meanwhile, on the West Bank thousands of protesters came out to demonstrate against today’s formal opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. Relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem has caused a wave of anger from Palestinians, and many Arabs in the region.