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Monday, May 14, 2018
At Least 18 Palestinians KILLED in RIOTS Over Move of US Diplomatic Headquarters
At least 18 Palestinians were killed Monday as protests at the Gaza border turned deadly ahead of the U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem, Palestinian health officials said.
Protesters set fire to tires, sending thick plumes of smoke into the air along several spots of the Israeli border. Palestinian health officials said more than 500 were also injured.
The protests came in response to the U.S. Embassy officially moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The relocation of the embassy had been a key campaign promise of President Trump, which had infuriated the Palestinians.
Israel gets ready to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. (AP)
"A great day for Israel," Trump tweeted early Monday.
Monday marked the biggest showdown between Israel’s military and Gaza’s Hamas rulers along the volatile border.
Earlier Monday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the Trump administration’s decision to relocate the Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a “national security priority” for the U.S.
Mnuchin came to Jerusalem ahead of the opening ceremony for the new U.S. Embassy as part of a 250-member delegation, including President Trump's daughter, Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt
Mnuchin will unveil the plaque officially recognizing the embassy in Jerusalem, according to the Times of Israel.
“I'm thrilled to be here on behalf of the president. It's a big day - moving the embassy here. Seventy years in the making. We're thrilled to be here representing the president to do this,” Mnuchin said.
Israel prepared enthusiastically Sunday for the formal embassy opening with a gala party at its Foreign Ministry that included Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and other U.S. officials.
Israelis wave national flags outside the Old City's Damascus Gate, in Jerusalem. (AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told revelers that Trump's December declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital was "the right thing to do."
"Thank you, President Trump, for your bold decision. Thank you for making the alliance between Israel and the United States stronger than ever,” he said.
The prime minister said Trump's decision recognized a 3,000-year Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the "truth" that Jerusalem would be Israel's capital under any future peace deal.
Meanwhile, Israel bolstered its border security as thousands of Gaza residents headed toward the Israeli border for a possibly bloody showdown ahead of the embassy opening.
Hamas leaders have suggested a possible border breach in the days leading up to the embassy celebration, while Israel has warned it would prevent protesters from breaking the border at any cost.
Palestinian officials have criticized the Trump administration for its decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut ties with the U.S., declaring it unfit to be the sole mediator for potential peace between Israel and Palestine.
The Trump administration had brushed off Palestinian criticism, saying that the embassy move could be a first step for brokering a peace agreement.
Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and the Associated Press contributed to this report.