MIDDLE EAST

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians near border as Gaza buries dead

Hundreds marched in the funeral of eight-month-old Leila al-Ghandour, whose body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag. (Reuters)

Palestinians buried the dead on Tuesday from the bloodiest day in Gaza in years, after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians near the Gaza-Israel border during demonstrations against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

Israeli forces shot dead two more Palestinians on Tuesday, although protests were quieter than the previous day. It appeared that many protesters had gone to mourning tents rather than back to the scene of Monday’s bloodshed. Mourners marched through the strip, waving Palestinian flags and calling for revenge.

“With souls and blood we redeem you martyrs,” they shouted.

Hundreds marched in the funeral of eight-month-old Leila al-Ghandour, whose body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag.

“Let her stay with me, it is too early for her to go,” her mother cried, pressing the baby’s body to her chest. The family said she died of inhaling tear gas.

At Gaza’s hospitals, families crowded the halls and spilled out of rooms as patients awaited treatment. Bassem Ibrahim, who said he was shot in the leg by Israeli troops, said at one stage he had feared losing the limb because of the delays.

“There are not many doctors. They are unable to see everyone, with all the injuries,” said Ibrahim, 23. “The number was unbelievable and they did not have time.”

On the Israeli side of the border, Israeli sharpshooters took up positions to stop any attempted breach of the fence should demonstrations break out again. Tanks were also deployed.

International response

But if the violence tapered off, it still had a forceful impact internationally, with countries criticizing both the
Israeli use of deadly force and the US decision to open its new embassy at a ceremony attended by President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador, and Israel expelled the Turkish consul-general in Jerusalem. President Tayyip Erdogan exchanged heated words on Twitter with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Palestinians summoned home their representative in Washington, citing the embassy decision.

Netanyahu blamed Hamas for provoking the violence. “They’re pushing civilians - women, children - into the line of fire with a view of getting casualties. We try to minimize casualties.They’re trying to incur casualties in order to put pressure on Israel, which is horrible,” Netanyahu told CBS News

For the past six weeks, Palestinians have been holding Gaza border demonstrations demanding access to family land or homes lost to Israel when it was founded in the 1948 Middle East war. Israel rejects that demand, fearing it would deprive the state of its Jewish majority.

Palestinian medical officials say 107 Gazans have now been killed since the start of the protests and nearly 11,000 people wounded, about 3,500 of them by live fire. Israeli officials dispute those numbers. No Israeli casualties have been reported.

Palestinian leaders have called Monday’s events a massacre, and the Israeli tactic of using live fire against the protesters has drawn worldwide concern and condemnation.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 16 May 2018 KSA 01:30 - GMT 22:30
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