Di­plo­mats protest after Is­rael kills 60 at bor­der

Ottawa Citizen - - NP - Saud abu Ra­madan and david WaineR

Diplo­matic pres­sure on Is­rael mounted fol­low­ing its blood­i­est con­fronta­tion with the Pales­tini­ans since a 2014 war, with Turkey ex­pelling the Is­raeli am­bas­sador and crit­i­cism in Eu­ro­pean cap­i­tals spread­ing even as the vi­o­lence ebbed.

Am­bas­sador Ei­tan Na’eh was ordered to leave “for a while,” the Turk­ish For­eign Min­istry said, a day after Ankara re­called its en­voy from Is­rael. Hours later, the Turk­ish con­sul in Jerusalem, Husnu Gur­can Turkoglu, was also sent home by Is­rael.

Bel­gium and Ire­land sum­moned Is­rael’s en­voy to protest the killing of 60 Pales­tini­ans and wound­ing of hun­dreds of oth­ers on Mon­day. France called the Is­raeli mil­i­tary re­sponse “un­ac­cept­able” and the U.K. termed it “shock­ing.”

Tens of thou­sands of Gazans — some of them vi­o­lent — had con­verged on the bor­der. But crit­ics said the Is­raeli mil­i­tary, which re­ported no se­ri­ous ca­su­al­ties, used ex­ces­sive force in re­sponse to mil­i­tants con­fronting the army or push­ing peo­ple to charge at Is­rael’s se­cu­rity fence.

In­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism of Is­rael’s re­sponse fol­lowed back-to-back diplo­matic vic­to­ries it’s scored in re­cent days. Last week U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pulled out of the Iran nu­clear deal that Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu had tried to block. On Mon­day, Is­rael cel­e­brated another coup — Wash­ing­ton’s re­lo­ca­tion of its Is­raeli em­bassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Is­rael says at least 24 of the dead were ter­ror­ists, most af­fil­i­ated with the Ha­mas group that rules Gaza. Gaza’s Ha­mas-run In­te­rior Min­istry said 10 were mem­bers of the group.

Tues­day was to have been the cli­max of six weeks of protests in Gaza meant to dra­ma­tize their refugee sta­tus on the day Pales­tini­ans mark the “nakba,” or “catas­tro­phe,” of their dis­place­ment by Is­rael’s 1948 cre­ation. But the num­ber of Pales­tini­ans ven­tur­ing to the bor­der with Is­rael dropped to about 4,000, ac­cord­ing to the Is­raeli army. Two Pales­tini­ans were shot dead, the Gaza health min­istry said. Clashes also took place across the West Bank.

Ha­mas has said protests would con­tinue weekly, but it was not clear if it would be able to main­tain mo­men­tum dur­ing the Mus­lim fast­ing month of Ra­madan, which be­gins this week.

One lead­ing or­ga­nizer said the next mass march would be held June 5, to mark the an­niver­sary of the 1967 Mideast war in which Is­rael cap­tured Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Among the dead be­ing buried Tues­day was Leila alGhan­dour, an eight-mon­thold baby. Ac­cord­ing to her fam­ily, she was killed after in­hal­ing a cloud of Is­raeli tear gas dur­ing Mon­day’s bloody protests on the bor­der. They said her 12-yearold uncle had be­come con­fused and ac­ci­den­tally brought the baby to within yards of the barbed wire fence that Is­rael has vowed to de­fend.

“She is not the first mar­tyr for Pales­tine and she won’t be the last. Her sac­ri­fice is for Jerusalem and for the home­land,” her fa­ther, An­war al-Ghan­dour, said.

An Is­raeli mil­i­tary spokesman dis­puted that Leila’s death was caused by Is­raeli tear gas, say­ing “we have sev­eral ac­counts that ques­tion the va­lid­ity of this state­ment.” They did not give more de­tails.

Mean­while, pa­tients with gun­shot wounds filled wards and hall­ways in Gaza’s un­der-equipped and over­whelmed main hospi­tal Tues­day, with dozens still wait­ing in line for surgery a day after the deadly clash.

Even be­fore the lat­est round of blood­shed, Gaza’s health sys­tem of 13 pub­lic hos­pi­tals and 14 clin­ics run by NGOs had buck­led un­der per­sis­tent block­ade-linked short­ages of medicines and sur­gi­cal sup­plies. At Shifa Hospi­tal in Gaza City, the main health fa­cil­ity in the strip, th­ese woes were mag­ni­fied this week.

An­tic­i­pat­ing a ma­jor in­flux of ca­su­al­ties ahead of Mon­day’s mass march, Shifa had set up an out­door triage sta­tion un­der a green and blue tarp in the hospi­tal court­yard, set­ting up 30 beds and stretch­ers there.

Through­out the day Mon­day, Shifa re­ceived about 500 in­jured peo­ple, more than 90 per cent with gun­shot wounds, said hospi­tal di­rec­tor Ay­man Sah­bani.

Of those, 192 needed surgery, in­clud­ing 120 who needed ortho­pe­dic surgery, he said.

By mid-af­ter­noon Tues­day, over­whelmed sur­geons work­ing in 12 op­er­at­ing the­atres had only per­formed 40 ortho­pe­dic op­er­a­tions, with 80 oth­ers still wait­ing their turn.

Nick­o­lay Mlade­nov, the spe­cial UN en­voy to the re­gion, told the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil on Tues­day that hos­pi­tals in Gaza were “re­port­ing an un­fold­ing cri­sis of es­sen­tial med­i­cal sup­plies, drugs and equip­ment needed to treat the in­jured.”

MAH­MUD HAMS / AFP / GETTY IM­AGES

The mother of Leila al-Ghan­dour, an eight-month-old Pales­tinian baby who died dur­ing clashes in East Gaza on Mon­day, cra­dles her body at the morgue of al-Shifa hospi­tal in Gaza City.

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