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Israel faces outcry after 60 killed by occupation forces on Gaza border

By AFP - May 16,2018 - Last updated at May 16,2018

Palestinians carry a protester injured by Israeli occupation forces during a demonstration organised to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or ‘the catastrophe’, when thousands were forced to flee their homes amid violence surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948, near the Israeli border in the eastern part of Shujaiyya neighbourhood of Gaza City, Gaza, on Monday (Anadolu Agency photo)

GAZA CITY/GENEVA — Israel was under mounting international pressure amid calls on Tuesday for an independent probe after its occupation forces killed 60 Palestinians during protests along the Gaza border as the United States opened an embassy in occupied Jerusalem.

Palestinians continued protests on Tuesday on the Gaza border, though they were far fewer in number than the previous day, with two Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces’ fire, the Gazan health ministry said.

Palestinians on Tuesday marked the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, commemorating the more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homelands by Zionist forces in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

On Monday, tens of thousands had gathered near the border while smaller numbers of Palestinians approached the fence and sought to break through, with Israeli occupation snipers positioned on the other side.

Most of the 60 Gazans killed on Monday were shot by Israeli snipers, Gaza’s health ministry said.

The toll included a baby who died from tear gas inhalation along with eight children under the age of 16, the ministry said.

At least 2,400 others were wounded in the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza.

There were numerous calls for an independent investigation into the deaths, with Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium among those supporting such action.

On Tuesday, Palestinians withdrew their top envoy to the US over the Israel embassy move.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the European Union have previously called for an independent probe, with 115 Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces since protests began on the Gaza border on March 30.

Only one Israeli soldier has been reported wounded during that time.

“The United Kingdom supports an independent investigation into what has happened,” Alistair Burt, British minister for Middle East affairs, told parliament.

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.

Haley defends Israel 

 

Turkey told Israel’s ambassador to temporarily leave the country, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of “state terror” and “genocide”.

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold a special session on Friday to discuss “the deteriorating human rights situation” in the Palestinian Territories, after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians during protests along the Gaza border.

“The special session is being convened per an official request submitted this evening by Palestine and the United Arab Emirates”, on behalf of the rights council’s Arab Group and has so far received support from 26 states, the Geneva-based body said in a statement on Tuesday.

The US ambassador to the United Nations strongly defended Israel at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the violence in Gaza.

“No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has,” Nikki Haley said. “In fact the records of several countries here today suggest they would be much less restrained.”

On Monday, the United States also blocked the adoption of a Security Council statement that would have called for an independent probe into the violence, diplomats said.

Some funerals were held in Gaza on Monday, while others took place Tuesday.

Hundreds attended the funeral of Yazan Tubasi, 23, killed east of Gaza City.

“I am happy that my son is a martyr,” said his father Ibrahim, 50, though he was crying uncontrollably.

In the West Bank, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas declared a general strike on Tuesday after accusing Israel of “massacres”.

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, both White House aides.

The embassy inauguration — which took place on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding — followed Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed East Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

International consensus has been that the city’s status must be negotiated between the two sides, but Trump broke with that to global outrage.

He has argued that it helps make peace possible by taking Jerusalem “off the table”, but many have noted he has not announced any concessions in return from Israel.

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