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Dozens dead when protesters use opening of US Embassy as excuse to ratchet up violence

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DCNFRyan Rickrell, DCNF

Violent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters in Gaza Monday left at least 41 dead and several hundred more wounded as tensions skyrocketed with the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered along the Gaza security fence along the border. As the weeks-long protests at the border turned extremely violent Monday, riot organizers encouraged protesters to breach the barriers, and Israel warned that it would do whatever necessary to prevent a security breach, according to the Times of Israel. “Hamas [which controls Gaza] plans to carry out a massacre in Israel. The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] will not let them,” an IDF spokesman explained Sunday.

“We are excited to storm and get inside,” 23-year-old Mohammed Mansoura told The Washington Post, explaining that he would do “whatever is possible … kill, throw stones” if he made it through. Another protester told reporters he wanted to get inside Israel to end lives.

Monday’s protests were the bloodiest so far, however, the six weeks prior saw bloodshed as well, as Israeli security forces shot and killed at least 80 people. More than two thousand others were wounded in the riots.

Protesters attempted to plant explosives at the border fence while gunmen open fire on the Israeli troops. Other protesters surged against the border fence, hurling stones at troops. Some protesters set fire to tires, filling the area with thick black smoke, while others set fire to kites and flew them into Israeli agricultural fields to destroy their crops.

Between 35,000 and 50,000 protesters are pushing at twelve points along the border fence.

The relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, is considered a devastating blow to the Palestinian cause. The new embassy opened officially Monday.

This post has been updated to reflect an increased death toll.

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