International pressure mounts on Israel

World | May 17, 2018
Israel came under mounting international pressure amid calls for an independent probe after its forces killed 60 Palestinians during protests along the Gaza border as the United States opened an embassy in Jerusalem.

Protests and sporadic incidents flared again on the Gaza border yesterday, though they were far fewer than Tuesday, with two Palestinians killed by Israeli fire, Gaza's health ministry said.

Palestinians on Tuesday marked the Nakba, or "catastrophe," commemorating the more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation.

The Israeli army said its troops responded to this "with riot dispersal means and fired live rounds."

"Additionally, 700 people violently rioted throughout Judea and Samaria," it said, referring to the West Bank.

It came a day after tens of thousands gathered near the border while smaller numbers of stone-throwing Palestinians approached the fence and sought to break through, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.

Most of the 60 Gazans killed on Monday were shot by the snipers, Gaza's health ministry said. The dead included a baby who died from tear gas inhalation and eight other children.

In the bloodiest day of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war, at least 2,400 other Palestinians were wounded.

Israeli forces have killed 116 Palestinians since a campaign of protests on the Gaza-Israel border was launched on March 30.

One Israeli soldier has been reported wounded.

On Tuesday the Israeli army alleged it appeared that at least 24 of those killed were militants, mainly from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

But there were demands for an independent investigation, with Britain, Germany and Switzerland among those joining calls from the United Nations and European Union.

British Prime Minister Theresa May called for restraint, saying "such violence is destructive to peace efforts."

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the "violence of the Israeli armed forces against the protesters."

Ireland and Belgium summoned the Israeli envoys in their capitals, while South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel.

Turkey has told Israel's ambassador to temporarily leave the country, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of "state terror" and "genocide."

Despite the bloodshed, the embassy inauguration on Monday went ahead as planned in Jerusalem, attended by a Washington delegation that included US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner.

Israel's military said 40,000 Gazans took part in the protests the same day.


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