White House: Palestinians responsible for Israel’s massacre of Gaza protesters

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Raj Shah, White House deputy press secretary (file photo)

The White House has defended Israel’s deadly crackdown on protesters in the Gaza Strip, laying the blame on Palestinians for partaking in demonstrations “organized” by the Islamic resistance movement Hamas.

On Monday, as the US celebrated the opening of its new embassy in Jerusalem al-Quds, thousands of Gazans gathered at the border fence to slam the move.

The peaceful protests turned deadly when Israeli military forces started to gun down people indiscriminately, killing nearly 60 protesters and injuring over 2,700 more. To put that in perspective, the Israeli regime’s forces had killed 53 protesters between March 30 and May 13.

"We believe that Hamas is responsible for what's going on," White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a press briefing. "We believe that Hamas as an organization is engaged in cynical action that is leading to these deaths."

“Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response,” he claimed, adding, that “Israel has the right to defend itself."

The Monday rally was part of a six-week protest called the “Great march of Return,” from March 30 to May 15 or the Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which marks the 70th anniversary of Israel’s creation.

Protesters demanded an end to the decades-long Israeli occupation of their lands and properties.

Hamas had encouraged Palestinians to partake in the rallies to raise international awareness about the tragic life conditions in Gaza, which has been under Israeli siege for over a decade.

In his press briefing, the White House spokesman did not explain why Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by both the US and Israel, was responsible for the sheer brutality that Israeli forces put on display by opening fire on the crowd.

Israeli military officials, however, said the killings were justified because the protests were a cover for a "terrorist operation."

UN Security Council to hold meeting

Meanwhile, members of the United Nations Security Council have called for an emergency meeting to address the situation, a Palestinian envoy said Monday.

Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, told reporters Monday that the meeting would take place "possibly within the next 24 hours."

US ramps up security out of fear

The opening ceremony of the new US embassy was held amid tightened security measures by both Israel and the US.

The US military announced later on Monday that an unspecified number of Marines had been dispatched to a number of countries in the region to protect American embassies against possible attacks.

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