US defends Israel amid widespread condemnation over Gaza border violence

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US defends Israel amid widespread condemnation over Gaza border violence

Palestinian rioters on the Gaza border. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

Many countries are denouncing Israel and even the US for the deadly Palestinian violence at the Gaza border, with two countries recalling their ambassadors. The White House is defending the IDF response to the “unprecedented” threat.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Around 40,000 demonstrators heeded the Hamas government’s call to amass at the border fence with Israel Monday, more than twice the usual number that has shown up over the last several weeks during the Palestinians’ so-called “March of Return.”

The IDF, which heeded the stepped-up rhetoric in anticipation of the Palestinians’ Nakba Day (May 15) and their anger over the opening the same day of the American embassy in Jerusalem, reinforced its numbers accordingly. They also dropped leaflets into Gaza, warning the residents not to approach the border.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians nonetheless made violent attempts at some 13 points to damage the security infrastructure and/or get through to Israeli territory, and the soldiers repelled the forces with tear gas, rubber bullets and, when necessary, live ammunition.

Indeed, Yahya Sinwar, the Gaza-based leader of Hamas, warned last week that Monday’s riots would be “decisive,” with the Palestinians “like a tiger running in all directions.

When the Gazan health authority announced late in the day that 52 Palestinians were killed and as many as 2,200 were wounded by the IDF, many around the world condemned Israel.

“Given the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack, the South African government has taken a decision to recall Ambassador Sis Ngombane with immediate effect until further notice,” a statement from the foreign ministry in Johannesburg said.

Turkey recalled its envoys to both Israel and the US.

France called for “restraint in the use of force,” saying in a statement that it “”recalls the need to protect civilians, in particular minors, and the right of the Palestinians to demonstrate peacefully.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, put out a statement of his own condemning the “shocking killing of dozens” by Israeli live fire and stating that “those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account.”

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson did mention that “there are some people provoking that violence,” yet still maintained that “there has got to be a restraint in the use of live fire.”

The Palestinian representative at the UN called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council, repeating the claim that the demonstrators were peaceful and calling Israeli actions an “atrocity.”

IDF threatens to assassinate Hamas leaders

Calling the level of attacks “unprecedented,” the IDF decided that the huge jump in violence – including Hamas’ firing on IDF troops, according to the army’s spokesman – needed a more thorough response than the soldiers on the border could provide. A jet was sent to strike five Hamas targets in a military training facility in northern Gaza.

Israel’s Hadashot TV quoted security officials as warning Hamas leaders via Egypt that they were now on notice as being personally in danger. “If the protests continue, the assassinations will return,” the message stated baldly.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, called on the Security Council to condemn Hamas prior to the Council’s meeting tomorrow.

‘Every casualty a victim of Hamas’ war crimes’

“Condemn Hamas for the war crimes they commit. Not only does Hamas incite tens of thousands of Palestinians to breach the border and hurt Israeli civilians, but Hamas also deliberately endangers Palestinian civilians. The murder of Israeli civilians or deaths of the people of Gaza – each one of them is a desirable outcome for Hamas,” Danon stated.

“Every casualty on the border is a victim of Hamas’ war crimes, every death is a result of Hamas’ terror activity, and these casualties are solely Hamas’ responsibility,” he said.

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