Palestinians turn to UN to protect civilians as another day of deadly Gaza protests unfolds

Israeli troops killed four Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others on Friday with live fire and tear gas used against protesters at the Gaza border, medics said

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 June, 2018, 7:30pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 June, 2018, 9:50pm

Palestinians and their Islamic supporters urged the UN to hold an emergency meeting and formally deplore Israel’s “excessive use of force”, particularly in Gaza, after another day of conflict along the border that left four dead.

Israeli troops killed four Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others on Friday with live fire and tear gas used against protesters at the Gaza border, medics said.

Israel said it was defending the frontier against crowds that threw stones and burned tyres in an attempt to cross. It said at one location at least two Palestinian militants fired guns at its forces and others had thrown grenades.

The Palestinians killed on Friday were three adult men and a 15-year-old boy, Gaza medics said. Of 620 people wounded, 120 were from live fire, they said.

Among those wounded on Friday were an Agence France-Presse photographer and a 23-year-old man who was on life support after a tear-gas canister penetrated his face, medical officials said.

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The deaths bring the total number of Palestinians killed at the Gaza border to 124 since protests there began on March 30, including 60 people killed in a single day last month.

There have been no Israeli casualties since the confrontations began, but Israeli farmland has been damaged by fire from the kites and balloons.

Palestinians say the protests are a popular outpouring of rage against Israel by people demanding the right to return to homes their families fled or were driven from on Israel’s founding 70 years ago.

Israel says the demonstrations are organised by the Islamist group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip and denies Israel’s right to exist. Israel says Hamas has intentionally provoked the violence, a charge Hamas denies.

The Palestinian United Nations envoy condemned the killings and said that representatives of the Arab Group and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation had asked the president of the UN General Assembly to resume an emergency session to discuss a resolution aimed at protecting Palestinians.

The move follows the US veto of a Kuwait-sponsored resolution in the Security Council on June 1 which US Ambassador Nikki Haley called “grossly one-sided” for deploring the use of force by Israel while not mentioning Hamas which rules Gaza.

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Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour said the Kuwaiti resolution was “extremely balanced” and almost the same text will be put to a vote in the General Assembly.

The new resolution will demand that Israel refrain from the use of excessive force and “deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas”. It will call for an immediate ceasefire.

The Palestinians are also strongly backing an investigation into events in Gaza by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council and a separate General Assembly investigation, Mansour said.

There are no vetos in the 193-member world body, but while Security Council resolutions are legally binding, General Assembly resolutions are not.

Mansour and supporters met General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak on Friday afternoon to officially request a meeting to vote on a resolution. The Palestinian ambassador said he believes Lajcak will set a date “very soon” – “most likely” it will be next Wednesday afternoon.

“We are mobilising all of our efforts with as many as we can reach from groups and member states to receive the largest number of votes possible to support us,” Mansour said.

Organisers in Gaza said that the protests will continue in the coming days and weeks.

Associated Press and Reuters