News World News

Saturday 21 September 2019

Two more Palestinians shot dead by Israeli troops in Gaza

The new killings come a day after dozens of people were shot during protests along the Israeli border.

Palestinian protesters run for cover from teargas fired by Israeli forces near the border fence, east of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip (AP)
Palestinian protesters run for cover from teargas fired by Israeli forces near the border fence, east of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip (AP)

By Fares Akram and Karin Laub, Associated Press

Two Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire during protests near the border in Gaza, health officials said.

The shootings come amid growing international uproar over the Israeli military’s use of deadly force against unarmed protesters.

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by live fire in a series of weekly protests led by the ruling Hamas militant group.

Medics treat Palestinian children suffering from teargas inhalation during a protest near Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip (Dusan Vranic/AP)

On Monday alone, nearly 60 people were killed in the deadliest day of violence since a 2014 war.

Palestinians resumed their protests on Tuesday, but only dozens turned out. The health ministry said the two fresh deaths occurred in separate incidents in central Gaza.

Israel claimed it is defending its border and accuses Hamas of using demonstrations as cover to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government has asked the Turkish consul general in Jerusalem to temporarily leave the country.

The move came after the Turkish foreign ministry temporarily expelled the Israeli ambassador in protest over Monday’s killings and the US decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu “has the blood of Palestinians on his hands”.

Mr Netanyahu retorted in a statement: “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.”

Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors at the United Nations have accused each other’s countries of violating international law.

The envoys spoke at a UN Security Council meeting which ended without any joint statement or action.

Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour addressed the council: “How many Palestinians have to die before you take action? When are you going to act?”

Israeli ambassador Danny Danon told the council: “You must tell Hamas that violence is not the answer.”

Protesters attend a rally on Whitehall in central London after more than 60 Palestinians were killed and about 2,000 injured by Israeli forces (Victoria Jones/PA)

Monday marked the deadliest day in Gaza since a 2014 cross-border war with Israel, and was part of a high-stakes campaign by the Islamic militant Hamas to break a decade-long border blockade.

The Gaza health ministry, which provided the toll from Monday’s violence, said a nine-month-old girl died from tear gas exposure, but medical officials later cast doubt on that claim, saying the infant had a pre-existing medical condition.

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 dozen miles away.

The juxtaposition of violence on the Gaza border and festivities attended by a Trump administration delegation – captured on split screens in TV broadcasts around the world – briefly drew attention to the plight of Gaza and its two million people.

Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and US treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin attend the opening ceremony of the new US embassy in Jerusalem (AP)

The relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv, condemned by Palestinians as blatantly pro-Israel, further dimmed prospects of what President Donald Trump had once touted as plans to negotiate the “deal of the century”.

The Palestinians seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as a capital.

The high casualty toll revived international criticism of Israel’s open-fire policies.

Rights groups have said the use of potentially lethal force against protesters who pose no immediate threat to soldiers’ lives is unlawful.

The military has said presumably less lethal rubber-coated steel pellets are not effective in keeping demonstrators from the fence.

Germany, Belgium and Ireland called for an investigation of the violence.

In Brussels, Prime Minister Charles Michel called the Israeli actions “unacceptable violence” and said there was a “clear lack of proportionality”.

A Palestinian woman reacts to teargas fired by Israeli troops in Gaza (AP)

Mr Michel said the violence and killings would be moved onto the calendar of the European Union summit in Sofia on Wednesday and Thursday.

German spokesman Steffen Seibert said the violence “concerns us greatly”, but also accused Hamas of cynically escalating the unrest.

Ireland’s foreign ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador to express “shock and dismay”.

China called on Israel to exercise restraint. On Monday, South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel until further notice.

The UN human rights office said Israel has repeatedly violated international norms by using deadly live fire to repel protesters from its border with Gaza, suggesting its forces should instead arrest those who reach the fence.

The UN’s Middle East envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, told the Security Council “there is no justification for the killing”. He called on Israel to “recalibrate” its use of force and to use lethal force only as a last resort.

He also urged Hamas not to use protests as cover to plant bombs and “create provocations”.

It was not immediately clear what might come out of the session given deep divisions between most of the world and the US, Israel’s close ally.

US ambassador Nikki Haley said no member “would act with more restraint than Israel has” in its confrontation with Palestinians at the Gaza border.

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News