Gaza border violence subsides as Palestinians mourn dead

Marsha Scott
April 2, 2018

On Friday, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting over the situation in Gaza, but the USA blocked a draft statement which urged restraint and called for an "independent and transparent investigation" into Friday's violence.

"Live gunfire on unarmed civilians constitutes a brutal violation of the global legal obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants", Adalah, a legal center for Palestinian rights in Israel, said in a statement, condemning the violence.

At least five protesters have been killed in clashes that broke out between Israeli troops and Palestinians marching along the Gaza Strip border to commemorate their Land Day.

Although some protestors threw rocks at soldiers, the Israelis responded with live rounds, rubber bullets, tear gas and sniper fire.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra said 15 men between the ages of 18 and 34 were killed, and almost 800 were injured from live fire and hundreds more from rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation.

At least 10 of the 16 Palestinians killed were identified as members of terror groups, the IDF said Saturday.

Guterres wants "an independent and transparent investigation" into the violence, spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Another spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said the USA was "providing a cover for Israel to continue its aggression against the Palestinian people".

"Schools, universities as well as all government institutions across the country will be off on Saturday, as per President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to declare a day of national mourning for the souls of the martyrs", the PA said in a statement, according to Al Jazeera.

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A majority of Gaza's 2 million residents are refugees of the 1948 war that surrounded Israel's creation, or their descendants.

The first in a series of protests planned through mid-May, Friday marked Land Day, when Palestinian land was confiscated by Israel in 1976.

Israeli tank fire and an air strike also targeted three Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip after what the military said was an attempted shooting attack against soldiers along the border that caused no injuries.

They also claimed Palestinians tried to damage fencing and infiltrate Israel and that protesters opened fire on Israeli soldiers along the border.

Palestinians accused Israel of using disproportionate force, saying its soldiers opened fire on protesters who did not pose a threat, while human rights groups questioned Israel's use of live fire. If violence continues, "we will not be able to continue limiting our activity to the fence area and will act against these terror organizations in other places too", he said.

Meanwhile, Israel's minister of defence Avigdor Lieberman rejected calls for an inquiry into the actions of the Israeli army.

He reportedly told the Security Council that Israeli security forces said that militants tried to get through the fence in attempt to plant explosives.

The U.S. and its envoy Nikki Haley, he said, "encourages Israel to defy United Nations resolutions aimed at ending its occupation".

Among calls for peace on a number of global hotspots, the pope referenced the current conflict on the Korean Peninsula over nuclear weapons and urged "those who are directly responsible act with wisdom and discernment to promote the good of the Korean people".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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