JERUSALEM: Fresh protests are expected at the Gaza border on Tuesday, a day after Israeli troops killed 58 Palestinians during demonstrations coinciding with the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
International condemnation poured in over Israel’s use of force against unarmed Palestinian protesters on Monday, the deadliest day in Gaza since the 2014 Israeli invasion. At least 2,700 people were injured in the violence.
Palestinians were demonstrating as they have been for six weeks as part of a protest, orchestrated by Hamas, called the “Great March of Return”.
Tuesday marks the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians call Nakba Day (Day of the Catastrophe), which saw hundreds of thousands flee amid the creation of Israel in 1948.
Tensions will be high in Gaza where the dead will be buried later in the day. Palestinians see East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in 1980, as the capital of their future state, the BBC reported.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for intensified protests after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his military was acting in “self-defence” against Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, who he said wanted to destroy Israel.
Israel said some 40,000 Palestinians had taken part in “violent riots” at 13 locations along Israel’s security fence along Gaza’s eastern border.
Abbas announced three days of mourning and there was fierce condemnation from several countries regarding the bloodshed. However, Israel’s key ally, the US, backed it.
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned “the violence of the Israeli forces against protesters” while Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called on Israel to be “proportionate in its response and refrain from excessive use of force”.
In a phone call with Abbas, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “condemned the attacks and wished Allah’s mercy to all martyrs”. Turkey recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Tel Aviv for consultations, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
Germany said Israel had the right to defend itself “but should do so proportionately”.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres was “profoundly alarmed” by the violence in Gaza and urged Israeli forces to “exercise maximum restraint in the use of live fire”, his deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said: “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas… Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response.”
Kuwait drafted a UN Security Council statement calling for an independent inquiry into the violence and expressing “outrage and sorrow” but this was blocked by the US.
South Africa also recalled its ambassador to Israel, condemning “the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack”.