Israel faced a growing backlash today and new charges of using excessive force, a day after Israeli troops firing from across a border fence killed 59 Palestinians and wounded more than 2,700 at a mass protest in Gaza.
Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador, while Ireland and Belgium summoned Israeli envoys. Leading European countries and the UN human rights office called for an investigation of the bloodshed, and the UN Security Council held a moment of silence for the Palestinians killed yesterday as it opened discussions on the Gaza situation.
Israel says it has the right to defend its border against a possible mass breach and accuses Gaza's Hamas rulers of trying to carry out attacks under the cover of the protests. A military spokesman said Tuesday that 14 of those killed a day earlier were involved in attacks.
Gaza Health Ministry, which provided the toll from yesterday's violence, said a 9-month-old girl died from tear gas exposure, but medical officials later cast doubt on that claim, saying the infant had a pre-existing medical condition. It remained unclear Tuesday where and how the child died.
The juxtaposition of violence on the Gaza border and festivities attended by a Trump administration delegation -- captured on split screens in TV broadcasts around the world -- briefly drew attention to the plight of Gaza and its 2 million people.
The relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv, condemned by Palestinians as blatantly pro-Israel, further dimmed prospects of what President Donald Trump had once touted as plans to negotiate the "deal of the century." The Palestinians seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as a capital.
The high casualty toll revived international criticism of Israel's open-fire policies. Rights groups have said the use of potentially lethal force against protesters who pose no immediate threat to soldiers' lives is unlawful. The military has said presumably less lethal rubber-coated steel pellets are not effective in keeping demonstrators from the fence.
In Brussels, Prime Minister Charles Michel called the Israeli actions "unacceptable violence" and said there was a "clear lack of proportionality."
Michel said the violence and killings would be moved onto the calendar of the European Union summit in Sofia on Wednesday and Thursday.
Turkey asked Israel's ambassador to leave temporarily and the country lowered flags to half-mast to mark three days of mourning. China called on Israel to exercise restraint. South Africa yesterday recalled its ambassador to Israel until further notice.
The UN human rights office said Israel has repeatedly violated international norms by using deadly live fire to repel protesters from its border with Gaza, suggesting its forces should instead arrest those who reach the fence.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)