Office spokesman Rupert Colville reiterated calls for an independent investigation into Israel’s use of lethal force in border demonstrations in recent weeks, including the deadliest incident on Monday, when dozens were killed.
Colville said rules under international law “have been ignored again and again”. He told a UN briefing in Geneva yesterday: “It seems anyone is liable to be shot dead or injured: women, children, press personnel, first responders, bystanders...”
Israel says it is only targeting “instigators”.
Colville acknowledged Israel’s right to defend its borders, but said lethal force should be a “last resort”.
“If people reach a fence: Arrest them.”
South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Israel, and International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has condemning Israeli troops’ use of deadly force against Palestinians.
Pro-Palestinian marches took place yesterday in Cape Town, in front of the US consulate in Johannesburg and in the capital, Pretoria, amid some calls for the South African government to expel Israel’s ambassador.
Sisulu said she had phoned US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to voice South Africa’s unhappiness with the violence.
South Africa’s three largest political parties - the governing ANC, the DA and the EFF - joined the government in condemning the violence at the Gaza border.
Gaza health officials are casting doubt on initial claims that a 9-month-old baby died from Israeli tear gas fired during mass protests on the Gaza border with Israel.
A medical doctor said yesterday the baby, Layla Ghaben, had a pre-existing medical condition and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to disclose medical information to the media. Layla’s family claimed yesterday that the baby had ended up in the area of the protest as a result of a mix-up. The Gaza Health Ministry initially counted her among several dozen Palestinians killed on Monday. A Gaza human rights group, Al Mezan, said it was looking into the circumstances of the infant’s death. Ireland’s foreign ministry has summoned the Israeli ambassador to express “shock and dismay” over the latest bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, and is calling for an independent investigation.
Gaza health officials say Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinians, most by gunfire, and injured more than 2700 in border protests on Monday.
Ireland says during yesterday’s meeting with the Israeli ambassador, it also said it was “very disturbed” by injuries to more than 200 health workers in Gaza.
“The ambassador has been informed of Irish demands for an independent international investigation into yesterday’s deaths led by the UN,” a statement said.
Meanwhile, Palestinians have clashed with Israeli troops in the West Bank a day after the deadly clashes 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.
Palestinians were yesterday marking the anniversary of what they call their “nakba”, or catastrophe, a reference to the uprooting of hundreds of thousands who fled or were expelled during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.
Organisers say the weekly protests are meant to bust a decade-old blockade on the territory. Israel says Hamas is using the demonstrations as cover to carry out attacks.
Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah 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 yesterday to mark the moment, though in some areas, the sirens appeared to malfunction and could barely be heard.
This year, the May 15 anniversary was especially sad for Palestinians, coming a day after the US opened its new embassy to Israel in Jerusalem.
The World Health Organisation says the number of protesters hurt in border clashes was “very overwhelming” for Gaza’s health system.
Citing figures from the Health Ministry and a group of aid agencies, WHO official Mahmoud Daher saidyesterday that 2771 people were wounded in Monday’s unrest.
Of those, 1360 were wounded by live fire, 400 from shrapnel and 980 from gas inhalation. He said the majority of those wounded by live fire were struck in their lower limbs.
Daher says that nearly 1800 of the wounded sought hospital care, putting additional pressure on Gaza’s already stressed hospitals.