High Alert

U.S. Marines Deployed to Protect American Embassies in the Middle East After Embassy Move

Following the official inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, the Pentagon is reinforcing security of American diplomatic missions across the region fearing backlash

A demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, in 2012
AP

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon increased security around a number of American embassies in the Middle East on Monday, following the opening ceremony of the new American embassy in Jerusalem.

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American embassies in Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon will be guarded by American Marines who are trained specifically for the mission of protecting American embassies abroad.

The official inauguration of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on Monday sparked demonstrations against Israel in Gaza, with 52 protestors being killed by the Israeli army, a death toll which is still rising and which caused outrage in the Muslim world.

The bloodshed drew calls for restraint from some countries including France and Britain, and stronger criticism from others, with Turkey calling it "a massacre". 

The Israeli military said it was responding to violence from the protesters to defend Israel's border. 

In contrast to the scenes in Gaza, Israeli dignitaries and guests attended a ceremony in Jerusalem to open the U.S. Embassy following its relocation from Tel Aviv. 

The move fulfilled a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump, who in December recognized the holy city as the Israeli capital. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump for "having the courage to keep your promises". 

"What a glorious day for Israel," Netanyahu said in a speech. "We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay." 

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. 

Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move that is not recognized internationally, as its "eternal and indivisible capital". 

Most countries say the status of Jerusalem - a sacred city to Jews, Muslims and Christians - should be determined in a final peace settlement and that moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal. 

Peace talks aimed a finding a two-state solution to the conflict have been frozen since 2014. 

Trump, in a recorded message, said he remained committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He was represented at the ceremony by his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, U.S. envoy to the Middle East. 

Kushner said it was possible for both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to gain more than give in any peace deal. 
"Jerusalem must remain a city that brings people of all faiths together," he said in a speech. 

But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the United States had opened an "American settlement outpost in East Jerusalem". He called the deaths in Gaza a massacre and announced a general strike on Tuesday.