Israel’s 70th anniversary commemoration started yesterday with two key events, the official moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and an immense, deadly protest in Gaza.
Neither of those events happened in the way they are generally being reported.
The embassy is, in fact, open for business… but it’s not fully functional. It’s also not going to be the final location of the embassy, although it may form part of the final embassy footprint. From Israel Harom:
At this time, the embassy in Jerusalem will be incorporated into the consulate’s facilities in the city’s Arnona neighborhood. The interim embassy will have office space for the ambassador and a small staff and, by the end of 2019, a new embassy annex on the Arnona compound will be opened, Nauert said.
The State Department stressed that for security reasons, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman will continue living in the residence in Herzliya and commute to the relocated embassy.
“Consular services will continue uninterrupted as part of the embassy,” the State Department said, meaning that these services will also be provided to residents living within the Green Line.
The official opening was moved forward to coincide with the beginning of Israel’s anniversary celebration. As the anniversary had been declared a time for protest, adding the opening to the existing ceremonies diminished the need for additional security beyond the already heightened levels.
The move was a political one. It underscores the relationship between President Trump and Israel, which is politically useful in America at a time when Jewish people, traditionally associated with the Democrat party, are facing rising anti-Semitism within that party’s ranks. It also plays toward the Evangelical leaders who continue to promote Trump despite his repeated moral failings, as many Evangelical leaders promote Israel either out of support for the role of Judaism in the foundations of Christianity or because of their interpretations of end-times prophecies. Some prophecy interpretations stipulate a restored Jewish state.
It also served as a way for President Trump’s supporters to claim he fulfills his campaign promises. While that assertion is demonstrably false to anyone looking for the southern border wall construction or the end to Obamacare, the fact is that, like most politicians, he has fulfilled some of his promises while leaving others by the wayside. This was among the earliest of the promises he attempted to fulfill, initiated shortly after he was inaugurated. With the embassy move already in progress, the timing of it was shifted to provide maximum benefit.
The protest in Gaza was not a protest, at least not exclusively. For many of the attendees it was a peaceful protest. For many others, it was a violent protest; From Vox:
But as the embassy event got underway on Monday, Israeli soldiers killed more than 50 Palestinian protesters and wounded more than 2,200 others on the Gaza border. Many of the protesters were unarmed, though some hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails. The Israeli military said that they shot three protesters who were attempting to detonate a bomb. Thousands of Palestinians are in their seventh week of protests there, calling for the right of return to territory that is now part of Israel.
According to that source, some hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails. According to Reuters, slingshots – a deadly weapon – were used. The Washington Free Beacon found an MSNBC reporter on the scene shifting from calling them “unarmed” to admitting that they also used incendiary tires to attempt to melt the razor wire during breach efforts and incendiary kites to set blazes on the other side of the fence.
The breach efforts were what reportedly triggered the live fire response from the Israeli Defense Forces. From the Telegraph:
The IDF said it opened fire to prevent to stop the crowd from bursting through the fence. While the fence was damaged in places, no Palestinians came through. “We do not target anyone who does not pose a threat, either by trying to tear down the fence or running into Israel,” said Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman.
Amidst those who wanted it to be a violent protest, some of those, if recent history is a guide, were terrorists and terrorist agitators. (Israel Hayom)
Israeli forces reportedly killed 58 people and injured thousands yesterday. (Haaretz) Pro-Israel forces are pointing out that those killed and injured were participating in a military-style effort to breach defensive positions and were armed with deadly weapons, albeit not the quality of weaponry available to the IDF. Anti-Israel forces are conflating the violent protesters with the non-violent and presenting them as victims of Israel. Further obscuring the issue is that Hamas runs the Gaza Health Ministry, and Hamas has a history of falsifying and inflating claims of violence. (Time)
Until the names of the slain are released and investigations made into the method of the deaths and injuries, it is premature to presume any level of guilt or innocence on the part of specific individuals on either side of the conflict. It is completely reasonable, however, to say that a majority, if not all, of those shot were willingly putting themselves at risk by joining direct attempts to breach the protective fencing.
More protests are expected today, as Israel continues its prepared anniversary celebrations and as the Iranian-backed Hamas attempts to capitalize on the favorable press they have received worldwide.