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US embassy opening in Jerusalem, killings and outrage

2 min 15Approximate reading time

The opening of a new US embassy in Jerusalem sparked deadly demonstrations on the Gaza border as Israeli forces shot and killed dozens of Palestinians, with violence continuing Tuesday amid global condemnation.

Here is an overview.

- Israel warns, clashes erupt -

Several hours before the opening Monday afternoon of the controversial US embassy, tens of thousands of protesters gather at the Gaza-Israel border despite warnings from the Israeli army to keep away.

The border has been a flashpoint for deadly demonstrations that began on March 30, with some protesters attempting to breach the fence as part of demands that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their homes now inside Israel.

The first clashes erupt in the late morning as groups of youths approach the fence and begin to hurl stones, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.

The first death is quickly reported, after a 21-year-old Palestinian is shot dead by Israeli fire.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman had said in a message to Gazans earlier we "will protect our civilians with all our means and not enable the fence to be crossed".

- 'Massacre' -

In less than two hours, 16 Palestinians have been killed.

The death toll increases by the hour. By the end of the day on Monday, 59 Palestinians, including eight children, are killed, most of them by Israeli sniper fire.

At least 2,400 are wounded, either by bullets or from inhaling teargas.

An eight-month-old baby dies overnight after inhaling teargas.

It is the deadliest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority condemns the "terrible massacre" and calls for "immediate international intervention".

European nations call for calm, and Amnesty International condemns the "abhorrent violation" of human rights.

Turkey and South Africa recall their ambassadors.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defends the use of force.

"Every country has the obligation to defend its borders," he says on Twitter, accusing Gaza's ruling Islamist Hamas group of pushing the protesters into action.

"Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response," US President Donald Trump's administration adds.

- The embassy opens -

As the violence extends into the afternoon, the embassy is officially opened when the US president's daughter Ivanka unveils a plaque and a seal.

Trump hails it as a "great day for Israel" and says in a video message: "Our greatest hope is for peace."

For Israel, the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv formally recognises all of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and is a crushing blow to Palestinians who see east Jerusalem as their capital.

In his address to the crowd at the embassy opening, Netanyahu tells Trump: "By recognising history you have made history."

- Investigations demanded -

Protests continue with less intensity Tuesday on the Gaza border, with another two Palestinians killed in the afternoon, as some of Monday's dead are buried.

Calls mount for an inquiry into the violence, with Britain and Germany among those demanding an independent investigation. Berlin also blames Hamas for "pushing an escalation of violence".

After the Arab League urges the International Criminal Court to investigate "the crimes of the Israeli occupation", the ICC chief prosecutor says the tribunal is "recording any alleged crime" and will take any action warranted to prosecute crimes.

Belgium summons the Israeli ambassador and Turkey, whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused Israel of "state terror" and "genocide", tells the Israeli ambassador to leave.

But at the United Nations, US ambassador Nikki Haley defends Israel at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, saying it had acted with restraint in the face of provocation from Hamas.

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