In response to the deaths, now totalling 58, of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli defence forces associated with the US moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Arab League chief has called an emergency meeting and has condemned the killings.
Palestinians engaged in mass protests on the Gaza border as the US embassy in Israel was officially transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – despite the fact that Jerusalem is a disputed territory and is not internationally recognised as part of Israel. These protests, Israel says, are aimed at breaching the border and attacking nearby Israeli communities.
According to the Israeli military, 40000 Palestinians had taken part in “violent riots” at 13 locations along the Gaza strip security fence. Egyptian Streets reported earlier yesterday that, according to some media reports, some protests were peaceful while some protesters were encouraged to burst through the fences while Israeli troops were carrying out reinforcements. The BBC reports that Palestinians threw stones and incendiary devices, while the Israeli military used snipers. The Israeli military said that it had killed three people trying to plant explosives near the security fence in Rafah, while aircraft and tanks targeted Hamas military positions in the northern Gaza Strip.
Egypt’s state news agency, MENA, cited Arab League chief, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, as labelling the embassy move a “clear violation of international law.” The Arab league meeting is expected to be held on Wednesday at the level of permanent representatives “to counter the illegal decision taken by the United States of America to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem.”
“The fall of Palestinian martyrs by the bullets of the Israeli occupation,” Gheit stated, “must ring an alarm… bell to any state that does not find anything wrong with the immoral and illegal stance that we are watching.” He also said that he does not think the US administration “realises its real consequences in both the short and long term.”
The leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has condemned what he considers Israeli “massacres against our people,” declaring three days of mourning.
Egypt’s foreign ministry has issued an official statement condemning the Israeli use of force at the border. “Egypt rejects the use of force against peaceful marches demanding legitimate and just rights,” the statement reads, “and warns of the negative consequences of this dangerous escalation in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, stated that “every nation has the right to defend its borders. Hamas clearly says its intentions are to destroy Israel and sends thousands to break through the border for that end.”
In Europe, some nations, including the United Kingdom, called for restraint. According to the BBC, the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said “we expect all to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life,” while Germany stated that Israel had the right to defend itself, but should do so proportionately.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave one of the strongest statements, condemning the “shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire.” Regarding the wounded, however, Palestinian officials put the toll significantly higher at at least 2700.