The Latest: Hamas says it will proceed with mass rally

May 13, 2018
Members of pro-Islamic NGO IHH and other groups holding Turkish and Palestinian flags stage a rally following Friday prayers in Istanbul, Friday, May 11, 2018 to protest the US decision to relocate its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. The embassy is moving from Tel Aviv in line with President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The placard in Turkish reads: " Jerusalem belongs to the Muslims."(AP Photo/Erhan Demirtas)

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and protests along with Israel-Gaza border (all times local):

9:40 p.m.

The Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza has told Egyptian mediators that a massive rally along the Gaza-Israel border is going ahead as planned.

An official said Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh made that clear in Cairo talks Sunday.

Khalil al-Hayya, who accompanied Haniyeh, added that Egypt “supports Palestinian rights” and promised “try to ease the blockade.”

Egypt and Israel sealed Gaza after Hamas assumed control of the territory in 2007.

Hamas has led mass rallies at the border every Friday as part of a campaign of protests partially aimed against the blockade.

Hamas is urging tens of thousands of people to join Monday’s protest and has indicated large numbers of protesters may breach the border.

Israel says it will not tolerate a breach and will defend its border and nearby communities.


8:20 p.m.

Tens of thousands of Israelis are marching in Jerusalem Day celebrations on the eve of the U.S. relocating its embassy to the contested city from Tel Aviv.

Police said over 30,000 people took part in Sunday’s festivities.

Revelers waved Israeli flags, singing and dancing through the city’s streets.

A small group of dovish Israelis protested the march.

Jerusalem Day commemorates Israel’s capture of the eastern sector of the city from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war.

The fate of Jerusalem is a deeply emotional issue at the heart of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The Old City in east Jerusalem is home to key holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Nationalist Israelis view the day as a holiday marking the unification of the city under Israeli control.

Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.


8:10 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Mideast peace process “is most decidedly not dead” even as the Trump administration plans to open the new American Embassy in Jerusalem — a move that’s angered Palestinians and raised anti-U.S. sentiment in the region.

Pompeo tells “Fox News Sunday” that the U.S. still hopes to be able to “achieve a successful outcome” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He’s also addressing the issue of security, saying the U.S. has taken a number of steps “to ensure that not only are governmental interests but the American people in that region are secure as well, and we’re comfortable we’ve taken action that reduces that risk


6:50 p.m.

With American officials looking on, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised President Donald Trump’s “bold decision” to move the American Embassy to contested Jerusalem.

Netanyahu welcomed an American delegation, led by Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, at a celebration in Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Sunday evening. The new embassy is to open on Monday.

The Palestinians, who claim Israel-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital, are angered by the American move and have virtually cut off ties with the White House. Dozens of European countries also skipped Sunday’s ceremony.

But Netanyahu insisted the embassy move is “the right thing to do” and ordered other countries to follow suit.

He says Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jews for thousands of years, and any peace agreement will include Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.


6:30 p.m.

The Israeli military says it has beefed up forces along the Gaza border and dropped leaflets into the Gaza Strip urging residents to keep their distance from the border fence during large-scale protests expected Monday.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement is urging tens of thousands of people to join Monday’s protest — which is meant to coincide with the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem.

The protest is to culminate weeks of border marches aimed at breaking a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade. Hamas has indicated that large numbers of protesters could break through the border on Monday — a scenario that could prompt Israel to respond with deadly force. Forty-two protesters have been killed during the past month of weekly protests.

The army says it is defending its border and uses live fire only as a last resort.

On Sunday, it said it has deployed additional combat battalions, special units, intelligence forces and snipers. It also has deployed extra forces to the West Bank in case the protests spread.


6:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser believes that relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem will “make it easier” to arrive at an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

John Bolton says moving the embassy from Tel Aviv is “a recognition of reality.”

He tells ABC’s “This week” that “if you’re not prepared to recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that’s where the American Embassy should be, then you’re operating on a completely different wavelength.”

“Recognizing reality always enhances the chances for peace,” Bolton added.


6 p.m.

Former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann on a visit to Israel has apologized for remarks she made about Jews in the past.

The 2012 candidate spoke Sunday at a Jewish-Christian Bible study session in Israel’s parliament.

Bachmann asked for forgiveness from the Jewish people “for the horrible and arrogant way Christians, I include myself among them, treated and regarded the Jewish people.”

She said “I have stated things that should not have said and I apologize profoundly... for my statements that though said in ignorance have brought pain.”

She didn’t specific what she was apologizing for.

In 2015, the firebrand conservative reportedly called for Jews to be converted to Christianity.

She said as she reads the Bible she is “learning more and more that it is all about Israel.”

Her visit comes as the U.S. moves its embassy to Jerusalem this week.


4:45 p.m.

Gaza health facilities are preparing for mass casualties ahead of an anticipated large rally this week at Israel’s border.

Shifa hospital spokesman Ayman Sahbani said Sunday that tents with medical equipment are being set up outside the facility to ease pressure on its 20-bed emergency ward.

He warned that the hospital, Gaza’s biggest, will quickly “run out of medicine” and other items if it operates at full capacity.

He said Shifa has been badly affected by a decade-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after the Islamic militant group Hamas assumed control of Gaza.

Since late March, 42 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army fire and over 1,700 other wounded in border unrest.

Tens of thousands could try and burst through into Israel at protests this week.

Israel says it’s defending its sovereign border and its nearby communities.


10:40 a.m.

A high-ranking delegation of Gaza’s Hamas rulers is heading to Egypt a day ahead of a planned massive rally at the Israel-Gaza border.

The media office at the Rafah crossing point says Sunday the Islamic militant group’s chief Ismail Haniyeh and other members crossed into Egypt in the morning.

Hamas declined to comment on the departure, which is believed to be part of intensive diplomacy to contain the protest and prevent a possible breach of Israel’s border.

Last week, Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yehiyeh Sinwar, said international and regional mediators have come up with offers “to control” weeks of deadly protests. Hamas has organized them mostly against an Israeli-Egyptian blockade in place since Hamas overran Gaza in 2007.

The United States is opening its new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. The decision in December to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem has ignited months of protests in the Palestinian territories and across the region.


10:30 a.m.

Israel is preparing a series of festivities to celebrate the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, a move that has ignited Palestinian protests.

A reception on Sunday will include members of a delegation led by President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin.

Dozens of foreign diplomats are expected, though many ambassadors of European nations who oppose the move will skip it.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and view the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv as a blatantly one-sided move that invalidates the U.S. as a Mideast peace broker.

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