The Palestinian death toll in last week’s mass protest on the Gaza-Israel border rose to 18 today, officials said, as Israel rejected allegations of unlawful use of lethal force against unarmed demonstrators.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The United States firm for Israel over the weekend, blocking a UN Security Council statement urging restraint and calling for an investigation of the violence. Israel is being attacked and Israel has a 100% right to defend their borders at any and all times. Hamas has promised that these relentless terrorist attacks will continue all the way up to Israel’s 70th anniversary on May 14th, 2018.
More than 750 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire in Friday’s protest, according to Gaza health officials, making it the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war. Pope Francis, meanwhile, called for peace in the ‘Holy Land’ in his annual Easter Sunday address, saying the Israeli-Gaza border conflict ‘does not spare the defenceless’.
The pontiff’s message of peace came as the death toll from Friday’s violence, which saw the Israeli army use live fire on Palestinian protesters along the Gaza border, rose to 18.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said Monday that a 29-year-old Gaza man died of injuries sustained when a major demonstration led to clashes along the border with the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen and injuring hundreds.
Pope Francis made his appeal in his ‘Urbi et Orbi’ (to the city and the world) message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to tens of thousands of people in the flower-bedecked square below where he earlier celebrated a Mass.
The pope appeared to refer directly to the Gaza violence, calling for ‘reconciliation for the Holy Land, also experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless.’
Israel’s military has faced questions from rights groups over its use of live fire on Friday, the bloodiest day in the conflict since a 2014 war, while Palestinians accused soldiers of firing on protesters posing no threat.
Both UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini have called for an independent investigation.
On Saturday, the United States blocked a draft UN Security Council statement urging restraint and calling for an investigation of the violence, diplomats said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the soldiers for ‘guarding the country’s borders,’ while Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the protests were not a ‘Woodstock festival’.
Lieberman said calls for an independent investigation were hypocritical and on Sunday repeated his rejection of such a probe.
‘There will be no commission of inquiry,’ he told Israel’s public radio. ‘There will be no such thing here. We shall not cooperate with any commission of inquiry.’
Netanyahu also hit back at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his sharp criticism of what he called Israel’s ‘inhumane attack’ in Gaza.
‘The most moral army in the world will not be lectured to on morality from someone who for years has been bombing civilians indiscriminately,’ Netanyahu tweeted. He has previously labelled Erdogan as someone who ‘bombs Kurdish villagers’.
Erdogan responded later in the day by calling Netanyahu a ‘terrorist.’
On Friday, Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinians who strayed from a main protest camp attended by tens of thousands and approached the heavily fortified fence cutting off the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The military has defended actions of its soldiers and said they opened fire only when necessary against those throwing stones and firebombs or rolling tyres at soldiers. It said there were attempts to damage the fence and infiltrate Israel, while alleging there was also an attempted gun attack against soldiers along the border.
Israel accuses Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza and with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, of using the protest as cover to carry out violence.
In addition to the 18 Palestinians killed, more than 1,400 were wounded Friday, 758 of them by live fire, with the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, the health ministry in Gaza said. source
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