News / World

Daniel Friedman
4 minute read
15 May 2018
2:10 pm

UPDATE: Gaza toll reaches 60 with more protests against Israel planned

Daniel Friedman

More violence is expected today along the Gaza border as Palestinians commemorate the Nakba a day after at least 60 protesters were killed.

A Palestinian carries an injured protester during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018, during a demonstration on the day of the US embassy move to Jerusalem. Picture: AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS

Today sees the likelihood of more violence along the Gaza border as Palestinians mark the Nakba, which commemorates the more than 700 000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

It comes a day after Israeli forces killed Palestinians at the border during protests against the US embassy opening in Jerusalem, a move by the US that has infuriated the Palestinians and has been widely condemned.

The death toll has risen to 60, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Most of the Gazans who died Monday were shot by Israeli snipers, the health ministry said.

The toll included a baby who died from teargas inhalation, along with eight children under the age of 16, the ministry said.

A Palestinian demonstrator wearing an Anonymous mask protests on the Israel-Gaza border.

At least 2 400 others were wounded in the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya vowed protests in Gaza would continue on Tuesday.

Hamas’ armed wing and other militant groups would “not prolong their silence over the crimes of the occupation”, he said.

In the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas declared a general strike on Tuesday after accusing Israel of “massacres”.

On Monday, tens of thousands had gathered near the border in protest while smaller numbers of stone-throwing Palestinians approached the fence and sought to break through, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.

A Palestinian boy holding his national flag looks at clashes with Israeli security forces near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel east of Gaza City | © AFP | MAHMUD HAMS

South Africa responds

Yesterday the South African government made the decision to recall the country’s ambassador to Israel.

In a statement, the South African government condemned the violence and said: “Given the indiscriminate [violence] and gravity of the latest Israeli attack, the South African government has taken a decision to recall Ambassador Sisa Ngombane with immediate effect until further notice.”

The media release also states South Africa reiterates its view that the Israeli Defence Force must withdraw from the Gaza Strip and bring to an end the violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territories.

Government has also reiterated calls made by several member states of the United Nations calling for an independent inquiry into the killings, with a view to holding to account those responsible.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation have reacted angrily to the government’s decision, calling it “outrageous”.

Palestinian and Arab Israeli protesters wave Palestinian flags at a demonstration during the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding on April 19, 2018

Meanwhile, human rights and Palestine solidarity movement BDS South Africa (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa) has called on South Africans to come out in their masses today in a protest march to condemn the killings.

In a statement released yesterday, BDS South Africa said: “What has happened today, the Israeli killing of 52 Palestinians – including children – can only be described as a massacre.”

International human rights organisation Amnesty International echoed BDS SA’s statement.

“This is another horrific example of the Israeli military using excessive force and live ammunition in a totally deplorable way,” the organisation said in a statement on its website. “This is a violation of international standards, in some instances committing what appear to be willful killings, constituting war crimes.”

In an apparent foreshadowing of yesterday’s events, Israel’s embassy in South Africa released a statement yesterday morning warning that Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, would incite people to protest and attempt to bring down the wall between Gaza and Israel.

They claimed Hamas would hope for mass casualties and death, in order to garner international support and outcry against Israel.

But in response to the violence, BDS SA has called on the South African government “to take decisive action, starting with the recall of our ambassador in Israel, the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in South Africa, the implementation of the ruling party’s conference resolution for the ‘immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA embassy in Israel’ and for state-level sanctions to be applied against Israel”.

They also asked the public to join today’s march from Keizergracht to parliament in Cape Town.