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Gaza violence: 60 Palestinians dead; Israel blames Hamas; top developments

Agencies/Jerusalem 15 May 18 | 11:23 PM

Protesters holding a Palestinian flag march during a demonstration in Istanbul, against the move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem | AP/PTI photo

Israel says it has the right to defend its border against a possible mass breach and accuses Gaza's Hamas rulers of trying to carry out attacks under the cover of the protests.

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Israel is facing a growing backlash and new charges of using excessive force, a day after Israeli troops firing from across a border fence killed 59 Palestinians and wounded more than 2,700 at a mass protest in Gaza.
Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador, while Ireland and Belgium summoned Israeli envoys. Leading European countries and the UN human rights office called for an investigation of the bloodshed, and the UN Security Council held a moment of silence for the Palestinians killed yesterday as it opened discussions on the Gaza situation.

Israeli troops have claimed lives of at least 60 Palestinians and left more than 2,771 injured on Monday along the Gaza border. Today, Gaza-Israel border was expected to mainly calm, but according to a report in Reuters, an Israeli drone was seen dropping teargas on small crowds gathered at the border. And, according to an AFP report, Palestinians are clashing with Israeli troops in the West Bank. 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said that massacre of more than 60 people on the Gaza-Israel border reflects the need for a political solution to the ongoing conflict. During UN chief’s visit to the organization's European Union headquarters, Guterres said that the way out of the standoff is "a two state solution allowing Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace and security together." He further said it was "a terrible tragedy" and said "this only shows how important it is to have a political solution.


Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said the council needed to speak out against Hamas. "Every casualty on the border is a victim of Hamas' war crimes, every death is a result of Hamas' terror activity, and these casualties are solely Hamas' responsibility," Danon said in a statement.

Tuesday marks the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians call Nakba Day (Day of the Catastrophe), which saw hundreds of thousands flee amid the creation of Israel in 1948 and subsequent displacement of some 700,000 Palestinian refugees. 

In light of yesterday’s heinous bloodshed, the Palestinians have declared three days of mourning. Funerals of yesterday's casualties took place in Gaza today. Tens of thousands of people attended the funerals of those who were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza. 

Throughout the day, Gaza protesters set tires ablaze, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air, and hurled firebombs and stones toward Israeli troops across the border.

It comes a day after the United States transferred its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem in a move that infuriated the Palestinians and was widely condemned. In the bloodiest phase in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war, the death toll included a baby who died from tear gas inhalation along with eight children under the age of 16, the Gaza health ministry said. 

Just a few miles away from the Gaza-Israel boundary, Israel and the United States held a festive inauguration ceremony for the new American Embassy in contested Jerusalem.

According to Gaza's health ministry, most of the 60 Palestinians who died yesterday along the Gaza strip were mostly shot dead by the Israeli snipers.

The rising number of casualty toll has enticed immense international criticism of Israel's use of lethal force against unarmed protesters. China today condemned the border violence in Gaza and urged all parties to exercise restraint on Israel. 

Here are the top 10 developments around the escalating toll amid violent protests and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border, which has so far claimed 59 lives of Palestinians:

An Israeli drone dropping tear gas on a Palestinian protest encampment in Sajayia, as seen from the Israeli side of the Gaza border, 80 yards from the fence. Small crowds, for now, but more are expected after the funerals of yesterday’s dead. pic.twitter.com/dem20SaEPF

— Dan Williams (@DanWilliams) May 15, 20181. Hamas terrorists are hiding behind civilians during the riots: The United Nations’s permanent representative of Israel, Danny Danon addressed the UN security council on Tuesday over the killing of over 60 Palestinians in Gaza. Danon said, “Hamas terrorists are hiding behind civilians during the riots". “When it comes to the safety of the Israeli public, too often, the world is silent." “The Palestinian leadership is using every ounce of its leadership to attack us and destroy us." Dannon accused Palestinian authorities of “killing their own people" and “playing a public relations game." He also said Palestinians “always choose violence."

2. Clashes erupt in West Bank: Palestinians are clashing with Israeli troops in the West Bank a day after deadly clashes killed dozens in the Gaza Strip. Thick black smoke billowed from burning tires as Palestinians threw stones at Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas. 

About 200 Palestinians were protesting in the biblical city of Bethlehem while another 100 were demonstrating in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, The Guardian reported. Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah have marked the 70th anniversary of their mass displacement with a 70-second siren. People stood at attention and traffic stopped in parts of the city Tuesday to mark the moment, though in some areas, the sirens appeared to malfunction and could barely be heard, reported ABC news.

Palestinian protesters run for cover from teargas fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip | AP/PTI Photo

 

3. China, other nations condemn Gaza deaths, urge Israeli restraint: "We condemn the violence against civilians and call upon the two parties, especially Israel, to maintain restraint and avoid escalation of the tension," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a press conference. He stressed that the status of Jerusalem was the reason behind the current tensions and described it as a "highly sensitive issue that involved nationalistic and religious sentiments that should be resolved through dialogue between the two parties". 

ALSO READ:  China condemns Gaza deaths, urges Israeli restraint 

"We support Palestine in resuming their legitimate rights and interests," Lu said, expressing Beijing's backing for "the establishment of a Palestine state that enjoys full sovereignty and (...) with East Jerusalem as its capital", said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang. Yesterday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had accused Israel of "state terror" and "genocide" after Israeli forces killed at least 60 Palestinians on the Gaza border.

The Israeli military said Hamas tried to carry out bombing and shooting attacks under the cover of the protests and released video of protesters ripping away parts of the barbed-wire border fence. South Africa also recalled its ambassador to Israel, condemning "the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack".

4. US blocks call for independent Gaza inquiry at UN: The United States blocked an international resolution to investigate the 60 deaths when Israeli troops shot and killed protesters in the Gaza Strip. The United States blocked the adoption of a UN Security Council statement that would have called for an independent probe of deadly violence on the Israel-Gaza border, which erupted as the new US embassy in Jerusalem was opened, diplomats said.

ALSO READ: Palestinians bury dead after bloodiest Gaza day since 2014

5. United Nations “alarmed" over the rising deaths of Gazans: The UN’s secretary general, Antonio Guterres, said he was “profoundly alarmed" by the number of Palestinians killed. There already has been widespread international condemnation of Monday’s violence and the UN has expressed profound concern about what could happen later today. 

I am profoundly alarmed and concerned by the sharp escalation of violence and the number of Palestinians killed and injured in the Gaza protests. It is imperative that everyone shows the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life.

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) May 15, 2018

South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Israel. Turkey has called for Muslim nations to review their ties with Israel.

6. Israel’s ambassador to the UK defends Israel’s stand: Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mark Regev, has defended the use of live fire against Palestinians and blamed Hamas for initiating the violence. 

7. Netanyahu praises Donald Trump: Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude towards United States President Donald Trump for opening the US embassy in Jerusalem. He took to micro-blogging site Twitter to thank Trump for keeping his promises. "Thank you, President Trump, for having the courage to keep your promises. Thank you, President Trump for making the alliance between Israel and the United States stronger than ever @realDonaldTrump", President Netanyahu tweeted.


8. Muslim countries should examine their ties with Israel, says Turkish PM: According to a report in Reuters, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Tuesday said, Muslim countries should review their ties with Israel, reported Haaretz.

9. Israel needs to directly threaten lives of Hamas leaders: According to what Haaretz reported earlier in the day, Israeli Public Defense Minister Gilad Erdan today said, Israel needs to directly threaten the lives of the Hamas chiefs who are causing the bloodshed along the Gaza Strip. Erdan further said he speaks solely for himself, and that it is his position Israel should return to its former policy of preempting Hamas' aggression by assassinating its leaders. According to Erdan, they are the ones causing the grievous harm to Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Erdogan is among Hamas's biggest supporters and there is no doubt that he well understands terrorism and slaughter. I suggest that he not preach morality to us

— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 15, 2018

10. Netanyahu slams Erdogan over Gaza violence: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu censured the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday after his criticism over Monday's violent clashes. "Erdogan is among the greatest supporters of Hamas and undoubtedly understands terror and massacre. I advise him not to preach about morality."

With inputs from news agencies

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