Palestinians buried their dead Tuesday as global condemnation intensified against Israel one day after Israeli troops killed scores of protesters and wounded thousands more along the Gaza border.
Palestinians on Tuesday marked their displacement from Israel 70 years ago on the annual Nakba Day, or Day of Catastrophe. In the West Bank, about 200 Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops in Bethlehem, throwing stones as smoke billowed from burning tires. Soldiers retaliated with tear gas.
The funerals, however, drew the biggest crowds in Hamas-led Gaza as thousands mourned and waved Palestinian flags. In Gaza City, hundreds attended the funeral of 8-month-old Leila al-Ghandour, who died of tear gas exposure, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
The child was one of 59 Palestinians killed in Monday's clashes with the Israeli military along the fence line, the deadliest day of violence with Gaza since 2014.
Michael Lynk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territory, condemned Israel’s response to the largely unarmed demonstrators.
“This blatant excessive use of force by Israel — an eye for an eyelash — must end, and there must be true accountability for those in military and political command who have ordered or allowed this force to be once again employed at the Gaza fence,” Lynk said.
In South Africa, thousands marched in Cape Town and the government recalled its ambassadors to Israel. Turkey recalled its ambassadors to Israel and the U.S. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called Israel's response unacceptable, adding that "firing live rounds on protesters is shameful."
Germany was among numerous nations calling for an independent, U.N. investigation, although Chancellor Angela Merkel said she "understands Israel's security needs." Alistair Burt, the United Kingdom's minister for the Middle East, said Monday's events were "shocking" and "extremely worrying."
“The U.K. remains committed to a two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital. All sides now need to show real leadership and courage," Burt said in a statement.
Doctors without Borders, which said its medical teams were “working around the clock” to treat many of the wounded, said the “Israeli army must stop its disproportionate use of violence against Palestinian protesters."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended the use of force, saying every country must defend its borders.
The U.N. Security Council met on the issue Tuesday. Nikki Haley, the American envoy to the U.N., blamed Hamas for the violence and credited Israel with acting with restraint.
The ceremony Monday formally moving the U.S. embassy in Israeli to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv outraged Palestinians who have long hoped to create a capital for themselves in the city's eastern sector. Haley said the move was no excuse for violence.
“The Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy," she said.
Palestinians began a series of protests six weeks ago dubbed the Great March of Return. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in clashes since the protests began. Hamas Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, called for an "Islamic intifada" or uprising, in response to the deaths.
White House spokesman Raj Shah blamed Hamas for the deaths, saying the group was "cynically provoking" the Israeli response. He said Israel has the right to defend itself and called Monday “a great day for Israel and the United States.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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