60 Gazans Killed in Protest March Against US Embassy in Jerusalem
‘The Great March of Return’ began in March 2018, has claimed 52 and has left over 2,400 wounded.
The Palestinian death toll from the Israeli live fire into the protesting crowds along the Gaza-Israel border rose to 60 after an eight-month-old baby died from tear gas, that her family said she inhaled at a protest camp, on Monday, 14 May, Reuters reported. More than 2,000 Palestinians were also injured in the gunfire and tear gas.
As Israel prepared for a grand inauguration of a new US Embassy in the disputed land of Jerusalem on Monday, angry Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces near the Gaza border, according to the agency.
Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic group, is responsible for the violence that has erupted in Gaza around the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday and has led to dozens of deaths, the White House said.
“We’re aware of the reports of continued violence in Gaza,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah at a regular press briefing. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response.”
The protests turned deadly after Israeli troops began firing at the crowd that had gathered at the border to protest the opening of the embassy – Palestine opposes the US opening an embassy in Jerusalem, as the holy city’s future is a subject of contention between Israel and Palestine.
It was the highest toll in a single day since a series of such protests demanding the right to return to ancestral homes in Israel began on 30 March, Reuters reported.
Gunfire Began After US Opened Jerusalem Embassy
The inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, 14 May has once again brought to the boil the decades-old bone of contention between Israel and Palestine. The relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv in Palestine has left Palestinians infuriated as they seek Jerusalem as their future capital.
March Led by Hamas, Gaza’s Islamist Group
The march was led by Gaza’s Islamist group Hamas, which has fuelled violence and despair amongst Gaza’s two million people. Named ‘The March of Great Return’, the agitation began in March this year and has already claimed several lives and wounded many.
Palestinian medical officials said that 104 Gazans have now died since the start of the protests on 30 March. No Israeli casualties have been reported. The campaign is against the decade-long blockade of Gaza by Israel.
Hamas leaders had said that a breach of the border is on the cards, though Israel has warned Palestine against any such move, warning that it would be met with severe consequences and would be stopped at any cost.
The leaflets essentially translate to a warning that tells the “rioters” to save themselves and not jeopardise their lives.
The official Israel Defense Forces Twitter handle announced that the IDF troops were operating in “accordance” with the standard procedure.
The UN has warned of a collapse of services in the Gaza strip that is currently reeling from a fuel crisis, caused by protesters destroying the only entry point for fuel in the territory. Hospitals are running out of diesel to run generators, and the city’s ability to pump water and treat sewage is also being impacted.
The date of inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem coincides with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment – what is known in Palestine as the ‘Nakba’, or ‘catastrophe’, a reference to the uprooting of thousands of Palestinians from what is now Israel, during the 1948 war at the time of Israel’s formation.
Israel Faces World Leaders’ Ire in Deadly Gaza Violence
Palestinian leaders have called the events on 14 May a massacre, and the Israeli tactic of using live fire against the protesters has drawn worldwide concern and condemnation.
A spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned of further destabilisation in the Middle East, following the opening of the US embassy.
With this step, the US administration has cancelled its role in the peace process and has insulted the world, the Palestinian people, and the Arab and the Islamic nation and it has created incitement and instability.Nabil Abu Rdeineh told Reuters
UN Rights Chief Demands End to Gaza Killings, Calls for Justice
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an immediate end to Israeli live fire that killed dozens and injured hundreds in Gaza on Monday, calling for the international community to bring those responsible to justice.
According to Reuters, UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said Israel had a right to defend its borders according to international law, but lethal force must only be used a last resort, and was not justified by Palestinians approaching the Gaza fence.
UK PM May Says Violence on Gaza Border Is "Tragic and Concerning"
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May said the violence in Gaza is "tragic and concerning" and there needs to be an independent investigation after Israeli troops shot dead dozens of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on Monday.
"There is an urgent need to establish the facts of what happened yesterday through an independent and transparent investigation," May said at a news conference alongside Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday.
"The loss of life we have seen is tragic and extremely concerning," she added. "Such violence is destructive to peace efforts."
Saddened at the loss of life in Gaza, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem is US playing the “wrong card at the wrong time,” BBC reported.
The German Foreign Ministry said the right to peaceful protests must be respected in Gaza, Reuters reported. In addition, the foreign ministry reportedly said that the principle of proportionality applies even when Israel is entitled to defend itself.
France's Macron Tells Netanyahu Palestinians Have Right to Protest Peacefully
French President Emmanuel Macron told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call on Tuesday that he condemned the violence in Gaza, a day after dozens of Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli troops, Reuters reported.
The US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem violates international law, France’s foreign minister said, according to Reuters.
“France again calls on the Israeli authorities to exercise discernment and restraint in the use of force that must be strictly proportionate,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement, the Reuters reported.
Turkey Expels Israeli Consul in Spat over Gaza Violence
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has also told Israel's consul general in Istanbul to return to Israel "for some time", state-run Anadolu news agency said on 16 May, Reuters reported.
Muslim countries should review their ties with Israel, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday.
Known as the vocal critic of the violence in Gaza and the US’ embassy move, Turkey has called for a meeting of the the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Friday.
Kuwait to Propose UN Resolution on Protection of Palestinians
Kuwait's UN Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi said on Tuesday he would propose a draft United Nations Security Council resolution on "protection of the Palestinian civilians," that will be circulated to the 15-member council on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
‘Hamas Violence Does Not Justify Israel Firing’: Vermont Sen Bernie Sanders
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders lashed out at the violence perpetrated by Hamas, but said it does not justify firing on protesters.
Pope Condemns Gaza Killings, Says Mideast Needs Justice, Peace
Pope Francis on 16 May condemned the killing of Palestinians near the Gaza-Israel border, saying the deaths would only lead to more violence, and appealed for dialogue to bring justice and peace to the Middle East, Reuters reported.
"I express my great pain for the dead and wounded and I am close in prayer and affection to all those who are suffering," he told tens of thousands of people at his general audience in St Peter's Square.
PLO Calls For Strike in Palestinian Territories to "Mourn" Slain Gazans
The Palestine Liberation Organisation called a general strike across the West Bank and Gaza on Tuesday in response to the deadly violence at ‘Great March of Return’ at the border, Reuters reported, quoting the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.
PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef announced a "complete strike" across the Palestinian Territories "to mourn the martyrdom" of those killed, the agency said.
In a move to stop the “savage onslaught” against Gaza civilians, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative at the UN, called for an emergency meet of the UN Security Council, according to the BBC.
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(With inputs from Reuters, AP, BBC)
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