PM urges Is­rael to show re­straint as death toll in Gaza soars to over 100

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW WOOD­COCK

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.”

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