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Gaza toll rises to 59 with more protests against Israel planned

AFP  |  Gaza City 

Fresh protests were expected today a day after Israeli forces killed 59 Palestinians during clashes and protests along the border against the opening in in the conflict's bloodiest day in years.

Palestinians today mark the Nakba, or "catastrophe," commemorating the more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation.

It comes a day after the transferred its embassy from to the disputed city of in a move that infuriated the Palestinians and was widely condemned.

Most of the 59 Gazans who died Monday were shot by Israeli snipers, Gaza's health ministry said.

The toll included a baby who died from tear along with eight children under the age of 16, the ministry said.

At least 2,400 others were wounded in the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 war.

Senior vowed protests in would continue on Tuesday.

Hamas's armed wing and other militant groups "will not prolong their silence over the crimes of the occupation", he said.

In the West Bank, Palestinian declared a general strike on Tuesday after accusing of "massacres".

On Monday, tens of thousands had gathered near the border in protest while smaller numbers of stone-throwing Palestinians approached the fence and sought to break through, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.

The death toll led to strong condemnation from rights groups and concern from a range of countries.

But the blocked the adoption of a statement that would have called for an independent probe into the violence, diplomats at the said.

Despite the violence, the embassy inauguration went on as planned in Jerusalem, attended by a delegation that included US Donald Trump's daughter and her husband Jared Kushner, both aides.

Trump addressed the gathering by video.

"Our greatest hope is for peace," he said, despite the Palestinian anger the move has provoked.

said 40,000 Palestinians had taken part in the protests and clashes.

It said its aircraft had targeted 11 sites and tanks fired at "two terror posts belonging to Hamas", accusing the Palestinian Islamist movement of opening fire towards Israeli forces.

says its action is necessary to stop infiltrations of the border fence and claims that Hamas, which runs the blockaded Gaza Strip, uses the protests as cover to carry out violence.

The also blamed for the violence.

French condemned the "violence of the Israeli armed forces against the protesters" as several countries urged restraint.

Britain's minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt acknowledged "Israel's right to defend its borders" but also said "the large volume of live fire is extremely concerning".

"We continue to implore Israel to show greater restraint," he said.

EU said "we expect all to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life".

Turkish President accused Israel of "state terror" and "genocide." also said it was recalling its to the and Israel "for consultations," while recalled its to Israel "until further notice".

At least 113 Palestinians have been killed in a campaign of protests along the Gaza border since March 30, the vast majority by Israeli snipers during clashes.

Only one Israeli soldier has been reported wounded during that time.

On Monday, the said "many rioters" tried to breach the border fence and "approximately 10 and several firebombs were used to target the security fence and (Israeli) troops". It said shots were also fired at the soldiers.

The embassy inauguration followed Trump's December 6 recognition of as Israel's capital.

Israel occupied the and east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

Jerusalem's status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

International consensus has been that the city's status must be negotiated between the two sides, but Trump broke with that to global outrage.

He has argued that it helps make peace possible by taking Jerusalem "off the table", but many have noted he has not announced any concessions in return from Israel.

Beyond the disputed nature of Jerusalem, the date of the embassy move was also key. May 14 marks

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 15 2018. 12:55 IST
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