Israel doubling troop deployments ahead of US embassy opening

Press TV – The Israeli military has announced that it will be doubling the number of forces around the Gaza Strip and in occupied West Bank territories ahead of the controversial opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem al-Quds.

An Israeli army spokesperson on Saturday said that three additional infantry brigades will be deployed ahead of the embassy’s opening, two surrounding the Gaza Strip and one in the West Bank.

He added that the fresh additions will be nearly twice as many as the number of troops currently deployed.

The spokesperson noted that the number of troops in Jerusalem will not change, as responding to protests is the responsibility of the police.

US President Donald Trump has announced that he will not be taking part in the opening ceremony in al-Quds on Monday, but his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner will be present.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are expected to hold massive protests along the fence between the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories on the day of the US embassy relocation. The rally, which will cap several weeks of deadly protests in the coastal enclave, coincides with the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), when Israel was created in 1948.

At least 52 unarmed Palestinian protesters have been killed by Israeli live fire since the protests began on March 30.

Earlier in the day, thousands of protesters in Jordan, Turkey and Indonesia staged rallies to condemn the US decision to relocate its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Diplomats from many countries have reportedly declined to attend a reception ceremony for the embassy relocation ceremony in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds in a show of anger at President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital. The reception ceremony is scheduled to be held a day before the official relocation on Monday.

The Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported that only 30 out of 86 foreign envoys serving in Israel had accepted Tel Aviv’s invitation to the Sunday reception. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had invited the entire foreign diplomatic corps to the event.

Last December, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s so-called capital and relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, breaking with decades of American policy.

His decision infuriated the Palestinians, who declared that Washington could no longer play a role as a mediator in the so-called Middle East peace process. It also sparked outrage across the Muslim world and even among Washington’s Arab allies.

On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli capital.

The Israeli regime has faced international criticism over its use of live fire, with the United Nations and the European Union calling for an independent investigation. Tel Aviv has rejected the call.