Hundreds took to the streets in Tel Aviv, Israel, and other cities worldwide this week to protest the Israeli military killing dozens of Palestinians demonstrating on the Gaza border.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people in Tel Aviv marched and blocked traffic after Israeli forces fired on largely unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza on Monday, killing around 60 people and injuring hundreds more.
“People, you could see, were deeply angry with the current situation,” Alon-Lee Green, national director of the Israeli activist group Standing Together, which organized the protests in Tel Aviv, told HuffPost late on Tuesday. More than 600 protesters blocked roads in the city center for over two hours, he said.
“Yesterday in Israel all day, the TV news just showed a split screen: Half of it was from the shootings in Gaza, and the number of casualties was increasing by the minute. And then in the other half was [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and Ivanka Trump, literally drinking champagne in the U.S. Embassy opening,” Green added. “It was surreal and frustrating.”
On Monday, first daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner commemorated the official relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem ― a controversial decision her father, U.S. President Donald Trump, made in December.
As thousands of Palestinians protested on the Gaza border 40 miles away, Israeli forces opened fire, killing dozens of protesters, including many young people. As the protests continued on Tuesday, the Israeli military killed at least two more Palestinians.
The Gaza protests were part of “The Great March of Return” ― weeks of demonstrations running from late March until the annual Nakba Day on May 15, which commemorates the displacement of Palestinians when the state of Israel was created in 1948.
Since the protests began, Israeli forces have killed more than 100 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, sparking international outrage, particularly over the deaths of unarmed protesters and journalists.
International leaders condemned the deadly violence in Gaza this week, with more than a dozen members of the U.N. Security Council denouncing Israel’s “excessive use of force against unarmed civilians” on Tuesday.
The Israeli military said Monday in a statement that some protesters “hurled firebombs and explosive devices at the security fence and Israeli troops.” Israel has also said that it was defending its border against the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza and which the U.S. considers a terrorist group, saying Hamas has attempted attacks during the protests.
On Monday, the White House also blamed Hamas, with spokesman Raj Shah saying “the responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas.”
“Hamas violence does not justify Israel firing on unarmed protesters,” Sanders said.
Some of the protests this week in cities like Washington, D.C. and Cape Town, South Africa, had initially been planned over the controversial relocation of the U.S. Embassy or to mark the 70th anniversary of Nakba on Tuesday. But in the wake of Monday’s deadly violence, they morphed into demonstrations against Israel’s excessive use of force.
At a protest on Monday in the U.S. capital that was organized by the Jewish left-wing activist group If Not Now, about 150 people blocked the street near the Trump International Hotel. The group had organized the action weeks ago to respond to the embassy move, but the protest took on a different tone as demonstrators learned of the mounting death toll in Gaza, which was “really horrific,” an organizer said.
“As American Jews, we see Netanyahu saying he speaks for all Jews, and we’re saying that’s not true,” volunteer organizer Sarah Brammer-Shlay told HuffPost on Tuesday, saying actions in Israel were “pushed by our government.”
“This can’t be a community that supports violence and occupation,” she said.
See what protests around the world looked like: