Wednesday 19 September 2018

Guatemala now opens new embassy in Jerusalem as protests continue over Gaza 'massacre'

A Palestinian demonstrator reacts as others run from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
A Palestinian demonstrator reacts as others run from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Palestinian demonstrators are seen as smoke rises from burning tires during a protest marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
An Israeli man chants during a protest in Jerusalem outside Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu residence calling to stop the Gaza siege, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Eyal Warshavsky)
Palestinian protesters burn tires during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Tuesday, May 15, 2018.. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Palestinian protester reacts to teargas fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) chair Fatin Al Tamimi speaks at a rally called by the group on O'Connell Street in Dublin after more than 60 Palestinians were killed and about 2,000 injured by Israeli forces during protests on Monday. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Protesters attend a rally called by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) on O'Connell Street in Dublin after more than 60 Palestinians were killed and about 2,000 injured by Israeli forces during protests on Monday. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Palestinians living in Greece shout slogans and wave Palestinian flags during a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy against the killing of Palestinian protesters by Israeli forces on the Gaza border, in Athens, Greece, May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
The sun sets over the Gaza Strip, as seen from the Israeli side of the border May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Left wing Israelis hold signs during a demonstration against the situation in Gaza in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Israel faced a growing backlash Tuesday and new charges of using excessive force, a day after Israeli troops firing from across a border fence killed 59 Palestinians and wounded more than 2,700 at a mass protest in Gaza. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
British Ambassador to the United Nations Karen Pierce, center, is joined by ambassadors from other European Union countries as she speaks to reporters after a Security Council meeting on the situation in Gaza, Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Palestinian protesters run for cover from teargas fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian vendor stands next to his cart selling iced juice during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Israel faced a growing backlash Tuesday and new charges of using excessive force, a day after Israeli troops firing from across a border fence killed dozens of Palestinians and wounded more than 2,700 at a mass protest in Gaza. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian protesters during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Israel faced a growing backlash Tuesday and new charges of using excessive force, a day after Israeli troops firing from across a border fence killed dozens of Palestinians and wounded more than 2,700 at a mass protest in Gaza. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian protester asks for help while standing next to a wounded man was shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A drone used by Israeli troops fires teargas at Palestinians during a demonstration near the Gaza Strip border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian medics raise their hands up while walking towards the Israeli side of the border with Gaza in a try to evacuate a injured protesters during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian protesters carry a wounded woman during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians watch a burning Israeli field caused by a kite Palestinian activists use with burning rags dangling from its tail, during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian medics help a woman who fainted from teargas fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, chants slogans during his visit to the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, eastern Gaza City, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian protesters run for cover from teargas fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian protesters carry a wounded man shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Tear gas shot by Israeli forces is seen as smoke rises from burning tires during a protest marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba, on the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border, May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Aron Heller

Guatemala has opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, becoming the second country to do so after the United States, as international condemnation continued over the killing of dozens of Palestinian protesters by Israeli forces.

Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales dedicated the embassy just two days after a high-powered American delegation also marked the transfer of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said it was fitting since Guatemala also followed the US to be the second country to recognise Israel 70 years ago.

"You were always among the first," he said at the ceremony. "We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now."

A Palestinian protester asks for help while standing next to a wounded man was shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian protester asks for help while standing next to a wounded man was shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

US president Donald Trump announced his decision in December to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the American embassy there, triggering a joyous reaction from Mr Netanyahu's government.

Israel has always claimed Jerusalem as its capital yet most countries opted to place their embassies in coastal Tel Aviv because of the holy city's contested status.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it in a move not recognised internationally.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and view the relocation of the embassy as a one-sided move that invalidates the US as a peace broker in the region.

Protesters attend a rally called by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) on O'Connell Street in Dublin after more than 60 Palestinians were killed and about 2,000 injured by Israeli forces during protests on Monday. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Protesters attend a rally called by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) on O'Connell Street in Dublin after more than 60 Palestinians were killed and about 2,000 injured by Israeli forces during protests on Monday. Niall Carson/PA Wire

The embassy move added fuel to the weekly Palestinian protests in Gaza demanding the right of return to Israel and the lifting of a decade-old naval blockade.

They culminated in the killing of nearly 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces in clashes along the border.

A Palestinian demonstrator reacts as others run from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
A Palestinian demonstrator reacts as others run from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel did everything it could to prevent civilian casualties, but that Gaza's Hamas rulers were to blame for using them as human shields.

"The Hamas leadership is a group of cannibals who treat their children as armament," he said during a visit to a military base in southern Israel. "They have rocket armament, personal armament and another kind of armament - their children and women."

Since the Hamas-led protests began on March 30, more than 110 Palestinians have been killed and some 2,500 have been wounded by live fire, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Palestinian officials say the vast majority of the casualties have been unarmed protesters.

The heavy death toll on Monday, along with hundreds of wounded, made it by far the bloodiest day of cross-border violence since a devastating 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. It also triggered a diplomatic backlash against Israel.

The UN Security Council held a special session that began with a moment of silence for the Palestinians who were killed. In Geneva, the UN human rights office said Israel has repeatedly violated international norms by using deadly live fire to repel protesters.

Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador and consul general and several European countries summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their foreign ministries for questioning and called for an international investigation.

The diplomatic spat with Turkey intensified after what Israel called the humiliating treatment of its ambassador, who was subjected to a severe security screening upon his departure from the airport in Istanbul.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan dramatically ratcheted up his rhetoric this week over Gaza and the US embassy move. Mr Netanyahu retorted that a "man whose hands are drenched in the blood of countless Kurdish civilians in Turkey and Syria is the last one who can preach to us about military ethics".

Press Association

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