ISRAEL was yesterday accused of taking ‘an eye for an eyelash’ after at least 60 Palestinians were killed in protests at its border fence with Gaza.
A special meeting of the UN Security Council condemned the deaths after Israeli troops opened fire and injured 1,360 people in clashes on Monday — the same day the US opened its embassy in Jerusalem.
Two more people, including 51-year-old Nasser Ghorab, were shot dead at the site yesterday as thousands attended the funerals of those already killed.
Further clashes broke out on the West Bank where troops responded with tear gas to hundreds of stone-throwing protesters.
Michael Lynk, of the UN Human Rights Council said the killings may amount to a war crime.
‘The blatant use of excessive force by Israel — an eye for an eyelash — must end,’ he said. ‘There must be true accountability for those in military and political command who have ordered or allowed this force to be once again employed at the Gaza fence.’
Israel blamed Hamas for the violence. It said the Islamist group’s supporters tried to breach the fence, shooting at its soldiers and throwing grenades. It added that at least 24 of the dead were ‘terrorists with documented terror backgrounds’.
The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) tweeted: ‘Most were active Hamas terror organisation operatives, and some were active operatives of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.’ Israel’s ambassador to Britain Mark Regev said the IDF did ‘everything it could’ to avoid bloodshed. ‘We use live fire only in a very measured way, in a very surgical way and only when there is no alternative,’ he told the BBC. ‘If we allow the Hamas terrorists to enter Israel, we will have dead Israelis. We must protect our border.’
Here, Theresa May urged both sides to ‘show restraint and refrain from any further violence’, and Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt told MPs the role of Hamas ‘has to be opened up’. He said: ‘It is clear that it was prepared to use any breaches in the fence for its own purposes, and it is clearly one part of this terrible event.’ Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry accused Israel of a ‘calculated and deliberate policy to kill and maim unarmed protesters, who posed no threat’.
She said many were ‘shot in the back, many of them shot hundreds of metres from the border, and many of them children’.
Stephen Pollard, editor of the London-based Jewish Chronicle, called the shootings ‘shameful’. ‘Hamas exploited — even organised — much of the protests. But no one can tell me that the correct response was to fire live ammunition at unarmed Palestinians,’ he tweeted.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, defended the Israeli response and denied moving the US embassy provoked the clashes. She said: ‘No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.’
She walked out when the Palestinian representative was asked to speak.