Wed, May 16, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Palestinians bury dead; Israel faces diplomatic fallout


Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces after a protest marking “Nakba,” or “catastrophe,” commemorating the more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation, and against the US’ relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Thousands yesterday joined funeral processions for some of the dozens of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops in a mass march on the Gaza border, as Israelis faced growing diplomatic fallout from the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters.

Monday marked the deadliest day in Gaza since a 2014 war and was part of a high-stakes campaign by Gaza’s Hamas rulers to break a decade-long border blockade.

Israeli forces killed 59 Palestinians, most by gunfire, and injured more than 2,700 on Monday, the Gaza health ministry said.

A nine-month-old girl died from tear gas exposure, the ministry added, but medical officials later cast doubt on that claim, saying the infant had a pre-existing medical condition.

It remained unclear yesterday where and how the child died.

In jarring contrast to the Gaza bloodshed, the US held a festive inauguration ceremony for a new US embassy in contested Jerusalem at the same time on Monday, just several kilometers away.

The juxtaposition of violence on the Gaza border and festivities attended by a high-powered delegation from US President Donald Trump’s administration — captured on split screens in TV broadcasts around the world — briefly drew attention to the plight of Gaza and its 2 million people.

The opening of the embassy, condemned by Palestinians as blatantly pro-Israel, further dimmed prospects of what Trump had once touted as plans to negotiate the Middle East “deal of the century.”

The high casualty toll also revived international criticism of Israel’s use of lethal force against unarmed protesters. Rights groups have said that Israel’s open-fire orders are unlawful under international humanitarian law.

The Israeli military said it is defending its border and has accused Hamas of using protests as a cover for attacks on the border.

The military has said that rubber-coated steel pellets, at times used for non-lethal crowd control, are not effective in preventing Gaza demonstrators from approaching or breaching the border fence.

Meanwhile, the diplomatic fallout continued yesterday.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade summoned the Israeli ambassador to express “shock and dismay” over the high casualty toll and said it would seek an independent international investigation.

Turkey lowered flags to half-mast to mark three days of mourning for the Palestinians killed in Gaza, while China called on Israel to exercise constraint.

South Africa on Monday recalled its ambassador to Israel until further notice.

The UN Security Council planned to meet yesterday to discuss the violence, though it was not clear what might come out of the session.

Two UN diplomats said members could not reach unanimous agreement on issuing a proposed statement, circulated by Kuwait, that would have expressed “outrage and sorrow” over the killings and sought an independent investigation.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were supposed to be private.

For Hamas, which seized Gaza in 2007, Monday’s border protest was the culmination of a weeks-long campaign to try to break the blockade. The group led weekly protests near the border since late March as part of the push.

There were no signs yesterday that it had made a breakthrough in shaking off the blockade that was imposed by Israel and Egypt in 2007.

This story has been viewed 14657 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top