US says Ha­mas us­ing em­bassy is­sue as ‘ex­cuse’ for vi­o­lence in Gaza

Manila Bulletin - - World News -

WASH­ING­TON (AFP) – Ha­mas, the Is­lamist move­ment that rules Gaza, is us­ing the con­tro­ver­sial un­veil­ing of the Amer­i­can em­bassy in Jerusalem as an ''ex­cuse'' to en­cour­age vi­o­lence, the US State Depart­ment said Tues­day, af­ter Is­raeli forces killed 60 Pales­tini­ans dur­ing protests.

When pressed by jour­nal­ists in Wash­ing­ton, State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert re­fused to fol­low other Western coun­tries in call­ing for re­straint from Is­rael, or even all par­ties.

''This is a com­plex re­gion,'' Nauert said.

While as­sert­ing that ''we re­gret the loss of life; we re­gret the loss of all life,'' Nauert also re­it­er­ated the White House po­si­tion: ''Is­rael has a right to de­fend it­self.''

Nauert de­clined to link the vi­o­lence with the new Amer­i­can em­bassy, un­veiled Mon­day af­ter the United States uni­lat­er­ally rec­og­nized Jerusalem as Is­rael's cap­i­tal. The Pales­tini­ans claim east Jerusalem as the cap­i­tal of their fu­ture state.

''We have watched the demon­stra­tions over the past six weeks. These demon­stra­tions are noth­ing new,'' Nauert said.

''If Ha­mas wants to use that as an ex­cuse to rile peo­ple up and to en­cour­age vi­o­lence, that is their choice. It's an ir­re­spon­si­ble choice.''

Is­rael is com­ing un­der mount­ing in­ter­na­tional pres­sure and calls for an in­de­pen­dent probe over the vi­o­lence.

Pales­tini­ans on Tues­day marked the Nakba, or ''catas­tro­phe,'' com­mem­o­rat­ing the more than 700,000 Pales­tini­ans who fled or were ex­pelled in the 1948 war sur­round­ing Is­rael's cre­ation.

Protests and spo­radic in­ci­dents flared again Tues­day on the Gaza bor­der, though they were far fewer in num­ber than the pre­vi­ous day, with two Pales­tini­ans killed by Is­raeli fire, Gaza's health min­istry said.

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