PM urges Israel to show restraint as death toll in Gaza soars to over 100
PRIME Minister Theresa May has described the loss of life in Gaza protests as “tragic and extremely concerning” and urged Israel to show restraint.
Mrs May called for an “independent and transparent investigation” into the incident. While accepting that Israel had the right to defend its borders, she said its use of live ammunition was “deeply troubling”.
Some 59 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,500 injured when Israeli troops opened fire at protesters approaching the border fence on Monday. By last night, the death toll of Palestinians was more than 100.
Amid growing international condemnation, Israel insisted it had the right to defend its border against a possible mass breach and accused the militant Hamas movement of trying to carry out attacks under the cover of the protests.
The tragic scenes overshadowed Mrs May’s meeting at 10 Downing Street with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mr Erdogan has called an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on Friday to discuss the Gaza violence.
Speaking alongside Mrs May as the talks began, Mr Erdogan accused the United States of laying the foundations for the “horrible massacre” by fulfilling President Donald Trump’s promise to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In a press conference following their meeting, Mrs May said the situation in Gaza and the West Bank was “troubling”.
“The loss of life we have seen is tragic and extremely concerning,” she said. “Such violence is destructive to peace efforts and we call on all sides to show restraint.
“There is an urgent need to establish the facts of what happened yesterday through an independent and transparent investigation, including why such a volume of live fire was used and what role Hamas played in events.
“Palestinians have the right to protest, but these protests must The mother of Leila al-Ghandour (centre), an eight-month-old Palestinian baby who died of tear gas inhalation during clashes in East Gaza; protesters attend a rally called by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) on O’Connell Street in Dublin yesterday (top) and at Whitehall in central London
be peaceful. We are concerned that extremist elements are seeking to hijack legitimate protests to further their own objectives.
“While we do not question the right of Israel to defend its borders, the use of live fire and the resulting loss of life is deeply troubling. We urge Israel to show restraint.
“It is in everyone’s interests for peace and stability to prevail in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”
President Erdogan said the Israeli ambassador to Ankara had been expelled and its own ambassador to Tel Aviv has been recalled for instructions from the government.
However, in Dublin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Israeli ambassador will not be expelled from the Republic.
Mr Varadkar said he was profoundly shocked by the death toll.
He said: “There is no indication
that the scale of the threat could have justified such violence and so many deaths.
“Live ammunition is not a tool to be used for crowd control in our view.”
He added: “The Government will not be expelling the ambassador at this time. In fact in recent decades, if ever, Ireland has never expelled an ambassador. That is not the way we believe we should engage with other states.”