Israel has made clear throughout the protests that it holds Hamas responsible for any violence emanating from Gaza, and Colonel Conricus made no apologies for the body count. “Hamas is killing Gaza,” he said. “We, on the other hand, are defending our homes.”
Israel’s military response amounted restored international attention to the Palestinian cause with each one-sided casualty report, and revived Hamas’s flagging political fortunes.
The rival Palestinian Authority was left to look reactive and meek by comparison. Indeed, protests on the West Bank on Monday were fairly uneventful, and the authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, gave an unusually short speech addressing the Gaza death toll, calling for three days of mourning, a one-day strike, and terming the new embassy “an American settlement outpost in East Jerusalem.”
One clear loser, veterans of Israeli-Palestinian talks said, was peace in the region, which seemed ever more distant.
“Israel claims all of Jerusalem, and is doing their best to ensure it remains that way,” said Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator in Republican and Democratic administrations. “And the Trump administration is validating that in a way no other administration has.”
The American Embassy, he said, is the new symbol of that partnership.
Hamas and other jihadist groups have “a national and religious issue around which to rally: defense of Jerusalem,” Mr. Miller said. “The embassy is now the physical manifestation of that campaign.”