Palestinian demonstrators run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest against US embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City on Monday. Picture: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Palestinian demonstrators run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest against US embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City on Monday. Picture: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Israel has the right to protect its borders, contested as they are. But to shoot dead 57 Palestinian protesters for hurling rocks and firebombs at its security fence in Gaza was outrageous and out of all proportion to their "crime".

Palestinians have for weeks been demonstrating their anger at US president Donald Trump’s intention to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A city holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Jerusalem has been a flashpoint between Jews and Arabs ever since the creation of Israel on May 14 1948 — a day mourned by Palestinians as the nakba in which more than 700,000 Arabs fled or were dispossessed of their ancient lands.

For weeks the international community, which balks at recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, has condemned the country’s response to the protesters. But this week’s massacre — which was in obscene contrast to the glitzy inauguration of the US mission just 97km away — was the most brazen attack yet.

Emboldened by Trump’s contempt for Palestinian rights, Israel now abjures the idea of a two-state solution to this intractable conflict, which obviously requires compromise from both sides.

But the tragedy of this nakba slaughter is also that a once-persecuted minority seems to have lost any sensitivity to the plight of the underdog.

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