Israeli troops have killed dozens of Palestinians after opening fire on protestors who gathered near the Gaza border for the climax of a six-week demonstration coinciding with the inauguration of US embassy in Jerusalem.
Clashes erupted along the fence on Monday between unarmed Palestinians and Israeli forces as protesters converged on the site for a “day of rage”.
According to Gaza health officials, at least 43 Palestinians have been shot dead and hundreds have been wounded by Israeli snipers who are positioned along the fence, facing the unarmed protesters.
The Israeli army is expecting about 100,000 demonstrators to gather at main locations, coinciding with a gala in the afternoon to officially relocate US embassy to Jerusalem.
Israeli troops have killed 45 Palestinians since the demonstrations began on March 30, according to Palestinian health officials, while no Israeli casualties have been reported.
The death toll has drawn international criticism, but the United States which has angered Muslims with its embassy move, has supported Israel.
Hardline education minister Naftali Bennett told Israel Radio that the regime would treat the Gaza fence as an “Iron Wall” and anyone who approached it as a “terrorist”.
The rallies known as the “Great March of Return” are due to climax on Tuesday, the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe) when Israel was created.
Every year on May 15, Palestinians all over the world hold demonstrations to commemorate the day, which marks the anniversary of the forcible Israeli eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.
Israel has doubled the number of forces around the Gaza Strip and in occupied West Bank territories ahead of the controversial embassy opening. On Sunday, the regime deployed 11 battalions along the Gaza fence, including special forces, intelligence units and snipers.
Additional combat battalions and intelligence units are to be deployed to the West Bank.
More than 1,000 Israeli settlers stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of East Jerusalem on Sunday, in a provocative act ahead of the US embassy opening.
The occupied territories have witnessed new tensions ever since President Donald Trump announced on December 6 US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s so-called capital.
The dramatic decision triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.