Tuesday marks the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba - or catastrophe - and the culmination of the Great March of Return protests along the Gaza Strip's frontier with Israel.
- Mass protests are expected on Tuesday in besieged Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
- Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians on Monday in protests near the Gaza "security fence", including an eight-month-old baby.
- The US officially moved its embassy to Jerusalem on Monday, which also marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel.
We'll be keeping you updated here throughout the day.
SUMMARY: Death toll reaches 62, amid widespread protests
Areeb here from the MEE office in London. Following continued diplomatic tensions, and protests across the West Bank, and Gaza, questions continue to mount over the prospect of a UN investigation into the deaths of 62 people killed inside the Gaza Strip. Monday also marked the bloodiest day in Gaza since 2014.
Here are a few updates you need to know about the last two days:
- 62 people killed over the course of the previous two days by Israel in Gaza; among the dead was an eight-month-old baby.
- 3,188 Palestinians injured from Israeli tear gas, rubber-tipped bullets, and live fire, according to the Gaza health ministry.
- America defended its decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem, and blamed Iran for "instability in the Middle East."
- Israel expelled the Turkish envoy while Ankara kicked out the Israeli ambassador to Turkey over deaths in Gaza.
- Britain repeated called for a UN investigation into the Gaza deaths.
From all of us here in London, America, and across the West Bank, Israel, and Gaza, thank you for tuning into MEE's live-blog.
Eight-month-old Leila was killed by tear gas
Hundreds protest in Tel-Aviv to oppose Gaza killings
Hundreds on the march in Tel Aviv against Gaza killings and siege. Police threatening arrests pic.twitter.com/STwHuNHHib
— Haggai Matar (@Ha_Matar) May 15, 2018
Now: 300 demonstrators in Tel Aviv, chanting "no more killing civilians - end occupation now" pic.twitter.com/AVOXRxwlkI
— Haggai Matar (@Ha_Matar) May 15, 2018
BREAKING: One Palestinian killed in central Gaza
Gaza's health ministry confirmed another Palestinian was killed in central Gaza at approximately 6:41 PM local time. The latest announcement now brings the total death toll to 62.
(Source: Gaza health ministry)
Palestine's UN ambassador addresses Security Council
Palestine's UN ambassador, Riyad Mansour, offered his condolences to slain protestors and stated Palestinian support for an independent UN investigation.
During the address, Mansour questioned the "regard for Palestinians" and asked the UN Security Council "how many Palestinians must die before action is taken."
"A power that hides kilometres from the inhabitants from Gaza; Targeting them with air strikes, rocket strikes, and other heinous acts. They target unarmed civilians. Would you accept that?...Did these children deserve to die?
LIVE: UN Security Council holds emergency meeting on Gaza situation
Washington: American Jews protest against Israeli use of violence on Palestinian protesters
Protests planned to denounce Gaza 'massacre'
Israelis are expected to protest outside the office of the far-right Likud party in Tel Aviv to denounce the Israeli army's violent repression of demonstrations in Gaza yesterday.
"As the right-wing governing coalition fails yet again to prevent the latest round of violence in Gaza, we must stand up and demand a comprehensive political settlement that will ensure the restoration of Gaza and an end to the bloodshed," Israeli group Peace Now said in a statement.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is also planning a protest on Downing Street in London shortly.
Prince William to go ahead with royal visit to Israel
LONDON - Buckingham Palace confirmed to Middle East Eye that Prince William's would go ahead with a controversial visit to Israel, despite ongoing violence in Gaza.
The visit, scheduled for next month, will be welcomed in Israel at a time when the royal family's profile is boosted by the marriage of William’s younger brother Harry to Meghan Markle this weekend.
Arab newspapers decry Israeli 'massacre'
Here is how the major Arab newspapers covered the March of Return protests in the Gaza Strip and the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem on 14 May.
Al-Quds Al-Araby, published in London, titled its front page: "In the Nakba anniversary: 55 martyrs and thousands of casualties... The US is moving its embassy to Jerusalem and blames the Palestinians."
It said that the world "condemns the Israelis' massacre in Gaza... and calls for a united Arab and Muslim stance."
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar's front page read: "Definitely, we will return". It was illustrated with a Palestinian protester carrying his country's flag and masked with a Kufiya.
The paper added that the Palestinians did not actually return to their towns and villages, but that "50 souls of those who martyred returned."
"Palestine: the Nakba rage", cried Al-Araby Al-Jadeed from its front page.
The newspaper described the Israeli army's killing of protesters in the Gaza Strip as a "massacre."
"Yesterday was like the end of days. On the 70th anniversary of the Nakba and the establishment of Israel, Israel committed a massacre in the Gaza Strip."
Asharq al-Awsat, a Saudi newspaper published in London, ran with the headline: "Embassy in Jerusalem.... and a massacre in Gaza". Pictures of Netanyahu with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump at the opening ceremony of the US embassy were contrasted with those of Palestinian protesters in Gaza.
BREAKING: Israeli forces detain 6 Palestinians near Gaza fence
Reports have just emerged that Israeli forces have detained at least six Palestinians who were near the fence separating Gaza from Israel.
MEE correspondent Hind Khoudary witnessed Israeli forces grabbing two Palestinians east of Gaza City as they lay wounded near the fence.
The two individuals were out of reach of Palestinian ambulances when they were taken by Israeli soldiers, who dragged them to the Israeli side, Khoudary said.
She added that Israeli drones were dropping large quantities of tear gas in the area while Israeli snipers were shooting live bullets towards the crowd.
Erdogan: Israel committed 'horrible massacre' in Gaza
At a meeting in London with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised Israel and the United States over Monday's deadly attacks on the Gaza border. Erdogan accused the Israelis of committing a "horrible massacre".
Israel uses drones, rubber bullets, and live ammunition against protesters in Beit El
BEIT EL, Occupied West Bank - MEE correspondent Tessa Fox is on the scene in Beit El, an illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank that has played host to protests today:
Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets, live ammunition and deployed drones equipped with tear gas on young Palestinian protestors.
In response, Palestinians burnt tires and turned over skips in a bid to avoid being shot at by the Israeli forces.
“We came here because of Nakba but also because the US embassy moved yesterday. We want to send a message to Trump and the occupation government,” a 20-year-old protester told MEE.
“The suffering of people in Gaza, Jerusalem and ‘48 areas is the suffering of everyone. The pain is for the whole of Palestine.”
UK calls for UN investigation into Gaza deaths
Karen Pierce, the UK's Permanent Representative to the UN, used her address at the emergency Security Council meeting to call for an independent UN investigation into the deaths in Gaza.
The British envoy condemned the deaths in Gaza on Monday and called for the easing of restrictions on movement, as well as calling for the funding of infrastructure on the Gaza Strip.
Haley defends Israel during emergency Security Council meeting
US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, used her address to condemn Iran's "destabilising" presence in the Middle East.
US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley (Reuters)
She defended Israel and distanced America from any link between the US embassy move to Jerusalem and yesterday's violence.
"No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has," said Haley.
Israeli forces injure dozens in Gaza: MoH
Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said tens of Palestinians have been injured by live bullets and tear gas shot by Israeli forces in the area near the fence separating Gaza from Israel.
Demonstrations along eastern Gaza have been more subdued today than yesterday, as the small Palestinian enclave is still reeling from the devastating toll of Monday's protests. Thousands participated in funerals today for the 61 killed a day earlier.
UN envoy: 'Cycle of violence needs to end'
Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, gave a summary of the situation unfolding on the Gaza Strip at a special session of the UN Security Council.
He used his address to condemn the actions of Israelis killing unarmed civilians in the buffer zone and the placement of improvised explosive devices by Hamas on the Gaza fence.
Mladenov also raised concerns about the prospect of the situation in Gaza leading to further instability in the region.
France criticises the US and describes Middle East situation as 'explosive'
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday described the situation in the Middle East as "explosive" and criticised the United States for unilateral acts in the region.
Le Drian also criticised Israel for what he said was an unjustified level of violence.
"The situation in the Middle East is explosive, violence is doing the talking, war could loom," Le Drian told lawmakers in parliament.
"We are committed to the security of Israel but Israel's security cannot justify this level of violence," he said.
"We have disagreements with the United States," Le Drian said, referring both to the U.S policy on Iran and to the embassy move.
"We [also] have a disagreement about the method. Because in both cases the United States decided to act unilaterally," he added.
Israel's UN ambassador Danny Danon accuses Hamas of using 'human shields'
Speaking before an emergency session of the UN Security Council, Israel's UN ambassador Danny Danon accused Hamas of using Palestinians protesters as "human shields".
Danon defended Israel's use of snipers against protesters in Gaza on Monday, claiming they were trying to breach Israel's security fence along the occupied territory's perimeter.
"They are not protestors. It's a mob that carries explosives and sometimes you cannot differentiate between terrorists and the people around them," he said.
Standing next to an image of a blazing fire, which he said showed an attack on the Kerem Shalom goods crossing between Israel and Gaza on Friday, Danon claimed the aim of the protests was to set similar fires inside Israel.
He dismissed international criticism of Israel's use of live fire, insisting the international community should instead blame Hamas.
Incendiary kite sparks fire across Gaza fence
According to MEE correspondent Mohammed Asad, kites flown by Palestinian demonstrators and carrying improvised incendiary devices have sparked a fire in a forest located close to the Israeli side of the fence separating Gaza from Israel, east of Gaza city near the closed Karni crossing.
Smoke billows from the Israeli side after a kite loaded with a molotov cocktail crossed the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, east of Jabalia on 14 May 2018 (AFP)
Gaza demonstrators have flown kites for the past six weeks. While most kites have not carried Molotov cocktails, some protesters have attempted to use the makeshift flying devices to reach into Israel and cause material damage.
BREAKING: Belgium summons Israeli ambassador over Gaza deaths
LIVE: Israeli ambassador to UN addresses press conference in New York
BREAKING: Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces in central Gaza
The Gaza health ministry has reported that Nasser Ahmed Mahmoud Ghrab, 51, was shot dead by Israeli forces east of Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.
Ghrab's death puts the death toll to 61. Here's the full list of names of the people who have died since Monday.
(Source: Gaza health ministry)
Round up of West Bank protests
Mustafa here from MEE's London office. Here are the latest updates on the ongoing protests taking place across the West Bank:
- Palestine's Red Crescent reported that 46 people have been injured in Bethlehem; 12 wounded from rubber-coated steel bullets, 33 injured from tear-gas inhalation, and one protestor was beaten.
- Confrontations between Palestinian protestors and Israeli soldiers happened in Beit Furik, Beita and Salfit towns around the city of Nablus; and in Al-Ram, a suburb north of the city of Jerusalem.
- In Ramallah, a protest in Deir Abu Mash'al was blocked by the Israeli army using a metal gate at the village's entrance. In Ni'lin, the Israeli settlement of Beit El and Al-Bireh, there were confrontations between Palestinians and the Israeli army.
- One Palestinian was injured by a live bullet in Hebron in a confrontation with Israeli soldiers in Bab al-Zawya, near the old city.
Before the Nakba: Images of Palestine then and now
Israelis looting a sofa from a Palestinian house in Ein Karem village, Jerusalem in 1948 (Tarek Bakri)
Palestinian houses and cinemas, shops and mosques, train stations and markets were all lost in 1948, when hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes amid the violence of the Nakba.
Tarek Bakri, a researcher and archivist based in Jerusalem, was moved by the nostalgia and emotion still felt by many displaced Palestinians for their former streets and neighbourhoods and has tried to shed light on how Palestine looked before the Nakba.
“They live in the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon,” he told MEE. “They contact me via social media and send me pictures of their homes. I go out to find them and take pictures of how they ended up. It was not a desert, as the first Zionist settlers believed."
More of Bakri's before and after images can be found here.
BREAKING: 45 wounded in Bethlehem protests
At least 45 people wounded in Bethlehem, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Here's a breakdown of how Palestinian protestors were injured:
- 33 injured from tear-gas inhalation.
- 12 injured from rubber-coated steel bullets.
( Source: Palestinian Red Crescent)
'Grief reigns in Gaza': Thousands participate in funerals
On Tuesday, across the Gaza Strip, thousands of Palestinians participated in funeral processions, burying those killed by Israeli forces on Monday.
Relatives and friends crowded over the bodies of their loved ones - bodies shrouded in Palestinian flags or plain white linen. They kissed them goodbye for the last time.
In some funerals, shots were fired into the air as mourners chanted: “There is no God but God” and “With our souls, with our blood, we will redeem you, martyr.”
The atmosphere was very emotional, especially during the funeral of eight-month-old Leila al-Ghandour, who our correspondent Mohammed Asad says was her parents’ only child.
“Grief reigns in the Gaza Strip,” Asad says. “There is hardly any neighbourhood in Gaza right now without a mourning tent.
“People are very angry and want revenge. There are calls for more marches in coming days.”
Jerusalem resident: 'The world is being dragged to the Middle Ages by two men with delusions of grandeur'
Jerusalem resident Nihaya al-Qawasmi told Middle East Eye that the "international community has no moral compass or integrity to stand up to US hubris and arrogance."
Qawasmi took Isreal's interior ministry to court after it issued an order to revoke her residency and deport her from the city of Jerusalem. She is still waiting for the final rule.
"Fences around Gaza Strip were turned into killing fields and no one dares to stand up to the Zionists and put an end to their genocide against my people. We're in 2018 and the world is being dragged to the Middle Ages by two men with delusions of grandeur," Qawasmi said.
BREAKING: 53 Palestinians injured in Beit El, West Bank
The Palestinian Red Crescent said that at least 53 Palestinians were injured by Israeli security forces in protests near the Israeli settlement of Beit El, in the occupied West Bank.
Here's a breakdown of the causes of injuries in Beit El:
- 23 Palestinians injured from gas inhalation.
- 30 Palestinians injured from rubber-coated bullets.
(Source: Palestinian Red Crescent)