Gazans bury dead, more bloodshed feared
A wounded Palestinian boy is evacuated during a protest against US embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip. â" Reuters photo
More than 60 dead, 2000 injured in bloodiest day for Palestinians since 2014 Gaza conflict
GAZA: Palestinians rallied in Gaza yesterday for the funerals of scores of people killed by Israeli troops a day earlier, while on the Gaza-Israel border, Israeli forces took up positions to deal with the expected final day of a Palestinian protest campaign.
Mondayâs violence on the border, which took place as the United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, was the bloodiest for Palestinians since the 2014 Gaza conflict.
The death toll rose to 60 overnight after an eight-month-old baby died from tear gas that her family said she inhaled at a protest camp on Monday. More than 2,200 Palestinians were also injured by gunfire or tear gas.
Palestinian leaders have called Mondayâs events a massacre, and the Israeli tactic of using live fire against the protesters has drawn worldwide concern and condemnation.
The mother of a Leila al-Ghandour, a Palestinian baby of 8 months who according to the Palestinian health ministry died of tear gas inhalation during clashes in East Gaza the previous day, holds her at the morgue of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. â" AFP photo
Israel has said it is acting in self-defence to defend its borders and communities. Its main ally the United States has backed that stance, with both saying that Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the coastal enclave, instigated the violence.
There were fears of further bloodshed yesterday as Palestinians planned a further protest to mark the âNakbaâ, or âCatastropheâ.
That is the day Palestinians lament the creation of Israel in 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes in violence culminating in war between the newly created Jewish state and its Arab neighbours in 1948.
A six-week campaign of border protests dubbed âThe Great March of Returnâ has revived calls for refugees to have the right of return to their former lands, which now lie inside Israel.
It was unclear whether large crowds would turn up at the border on Tuesday for the climax to the campaign after the heavy fatalities suffered on Monday.
Palestinian medical officials say that 104 Gazans have now died since the start of the protests on March 30. No Israeli casualties have been reported.
Palestinians run for cover from tear gas during clashes with Israeli security forces near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Jabalia. â" AFP photo
Israeli troops deployed along the border again on Tuesday. The area was relatively quiet early in the day, with many Gazans at the funerals. Protesters are expected to go to the border later.
In Geneva, the UN human rights office condemned what it called the âappalling deadly violenceâ by Israeli forces and said it was extremely worried about what might happen later.
UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said Israel had a right to defend its borders according to international law, but lethal force must only be used a last resort, and was not justified by Palestinians approaching the Gaza fence.
More than 2 million people are crammed into the narrow Gaza Strip, which is blockaded by Egypt and Israel and suffering a humanitarian crisis.
At the Gaza hospital where the body of eight-month-old Laila al-Ghandour was being prepared for burial, her grandmother said the child was at one of the tented protest encampments that have been set up a few hundred yards inside the border.
âWe were at the tent camp east of Gaza when the Israelis fired lots of tear gas,â Heyam Omar said.
âSuddenly my son cried at me that Lolo was weeping and screaming. I took her further away. When we got back home, the baby stopped crying and I thought she was asleep. I took her to the childrenâs hospital and the doctor told me she was martyred (dead).â
Most of the protesters stay around the tent camps, but groups of youths have ventured closer to the no-go zone along the fence, risking live fire from Israeli troops to roll burning tyres and throw stones.
Some have flown kites carrying containers of petrol that have spread fires on the Israeli side.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered a general strike across the Palestinian Territ ories on Tuesday and three days of national mourning.
Mondayâs protests were fired by the opening ceremony for the new US Embassy in Jerusalem following its relocation from Tel Aviv. The move fulfilled a pledge by US President Donald Trump, who in December recognised the contested city as the Israeli capital. â" Reuters
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