It wasn’t surprising that Hamas blamed Israel for the deaths Monday of more than 50 Palestinians protesting the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. What was unusual was a White House spokesman defending Israel in such clashes.
“The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,” said White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah.
“Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response,” he told reporters.
“As the Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo] said, Israel has the right to defend itself.”
Earlier Monday, the health ministry in Gaza run by the government of Hamas, a U.S.-declared terrorist organization, claimed 58 Palestinians protesting at the border were killed by Israeli fire and 2,700 were injured. The Israeli military said it was repelling an effort by Hamas to breach the border. The Palestinians were commemorating Nakba Day, the “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding 70 years ago.
Robert Spencer, the editor of Jihad Watch, commented that what the White House spokesman said is true, but “it is startling to see it come from the White House after so many years when Israel was always the one to blame there.”
During MSNBC coverage Monday, Princeton professor Eddie Glaude Jr. denounced Israel, saying that killing blaming Palestinians for the deaths is like blaming U.S. civil rights marchers for the violence against them meted out by law enforcement.
WATCH: Speaking on MSNBC, Princeton professor Eddie Glaude Jr. stridently denounces Israel’s killing of Palestinian children and says blaming Palestinians for their own deaths is like blaming civil rights marchers for state violence meted out against them. pic.twitter.com/Ka9SikxeFx
— The IMEU (@theIMEU) May 14, 2018
Palestinian sources, however, said at least 10 Hamas members were among those killed in the clashes, including a son of co-founder Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi.
Dozens of social media posts called for Palestinians to bring guns and knives to the protest, knock down the border fence, kidnap Israeli civilians and hand them over to Hamas.
A spokesman for Israel Defense Forces, the IDF, said Hamas deployed 12 separate terrorist cells to try to breach the border at different locations.
Video footage posted by the IDF shows Gaza rioters destroying the security fence on the border with Israel.
The IDF said Hamas also equipped “protesters” with burning tires and incendiary kites, fitted with Molotov cocktails. Women were intentionally sent to the front line and put in harm’s way, the IDF said, apparently to increase the propaganda value.
Why does Hamas want to destroy the security fence? pic.twitter.com/XCt04ZeJSm
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 15, 2018
In addition, the Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad published a death notice for three of the members of its Al Quds Brigades who were killed in the protest Monday.
Haley: ‘Hamas is pleased with the results’
In a radio interview Monday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the loss of life was “tragic” but “Hamas’s conduct is confrontational.”
“They’re seeking to provoke the Israeli Defense Forces,” he said.
Turnbull, the Times of Israel reported, said the terror group was “pushing people to the border.”
“In that conflict zone, you’re basically pushing people into circumstances where they are very likely to be shot at.”
In a United Nations Security Council meeting Tuesday to discuss the violence, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley defended Israel.
“Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday,” she said.
“I ask my colleagues here in the Security Council, who among us would accept this type of ac on your border? No one would,” said Haley.
“No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has. In fact, the records of several countries here today suggest that they would be much less restrained.”
Haley said those who suggest that the Gaza violence has anything to do with the location of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem “are sorely mistaken.”
“Rather, the violence comes from those who reject the existence of the state of Israel in any location.”
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate minority leader, supported the move, noting in a statement he sponsored legislation two decades ago to move the embassy to Jerusalem.
“Today, today, the embassy of the most powerful nation on earth, our greatest ally, the United States of America, opened here,” Netanyahu said at a ceremony marking the event.
“God bless the United States of America and God bless Jerusalem, the eternal undivided capital of Israel,” he said.
Netanyahu praised President Trump for his decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy. When the date for the embassy opening was announced in February, coinciding with the founding of Israel, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat called the move a “flagrant violation of international law and agreements” signed between the Palestinians and Israel that will “destroy” the two-state solution.
The Arab League, meanwhile, planned to hold an extraordinary meeting Monday to discuss the United State’s “illegal” move of its embassy to Jerusalem, reported the state news agency MENA, according to Reuters.
Iran, denouncing Trump as “feeble-minded,” called on the Palestinians and the international community to engage in resistance, the Times of Israel reported.
First question at today’s White House press briefing is about the violence along the Gaza border https://t.co/00NCphiISU
— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) May 14, 2018
Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urged Muslims to take up arms and carry out jihad against the United States, saying the embassy move was evidence that negotiations and “appeasement” have failed the Palestinians, reported France 24
British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday the United Kingdom had no plans to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Britain was one of 128 countries that voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution in December declaring Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “null and void.” Nine countries voted against it.
The Palestinian leadership, Fatah and Hamas, claims the Jewish people have falsified their 3,000 year-old history to lay claim to Jerusalem. The holy city, the Palestinians insist, is “Palestinian” and must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
After the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 was passed, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama signed every six months a waiver incorporated in the law allowing the president to delay its implementation for national security reasons.
Trump signed the waiver in June but decided in December finally to implement the law.
The three presidents who chose to delay enacting the Jerusalem Embassy Act nevertheless affirmed publicly when they were in office that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and two of them said they supported moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Obama, a Democrat, told AIPAC in 2008 that Jerusalem “will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided. I have no illusions that this will be easy.”
Bush, a Republican, promised during the 2000 campaign that “as soon as I take office I will begin the process of moving the U.S. ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital.”
And Clinton, a Democrat, entered office in 1993 saying he supported “the principle” of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.”