Kuwait requests emergency UN Security Council meeting on Gaza on May 15: official

Tuesday, 2018-05-15 06:50:40
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Kuwaiti ambassador to the United Nations, Mansour Al-Otaibi, requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting after the Israeli army killed dozens of Palestinians during protests in Gaza. (Photo:KUNA)
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Kuwait, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council after the Israeli army killed dozens of Palestinians during protests on May 14 in Gaza.

“We condemned what has happened,” the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United Nations, Mansour Al-Otaibi, told journalists.

“We will see what the council will do.” He said he was consulting with the Arab Group at the UN and with the Palestinian ambassador to the world body.

According to media reports, at least 55 Palestinians were killed and over 2,700 wounded in Gaza – the Palestinian enclave occupied by Israel, as the Israeli army fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters assembled along the fence with Israel.

It was the highest Palestinian death toll in a single day since Hamas-led demonstrations began along the border fence on March 30; and the highest number of casualties inflicted since the 2014 conflict with Israel inside Gaza.

Following reports that dozens of Palestinians have been killed, demonstrating along the border of the Gaza Strip on May 14, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to show restraint.

“The Secretary-General is profoundly alarmed by the sharp escalation of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the high number of Palestinians killed and injured in the Gaza protests,” said UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq in a statement.

“Israel security forces must exercise maximum restraint in the use of live fire. Hamas and the leaders of the demonstrations have a responsibility to prevent all violent actions and provocations,” the statement added.

During the six-weeks of demonstrations which organizers have called “the Great March of Return,” thousands of Palestinians have converged at the border to protest the long-standing blockade of the enclave. Israel has accused Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militants of using the protests – involving women, children, and elderly civilians - as a pretext to infiltrate Israel and carry out terrorist attacks.

In the Monday (May 14)’s march, many Palestinians were protesting the official move of the United States embassy, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour urged the council Monday to condemn the killings. Speaking to reporters, Mansour called the Israel military response a “savage onslaught” and an “atrocity.”

The council held an emergency meeting when the protests began in March. Members then urged restraint on both sides but couldn’t agree on any action or joint message.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged “utmost restraint.”

“Dozens of Palestinians, including children, have been killed and hundreds injured from Israeli fire today, during ongoing mass protests near the Gaza fence. We expect all to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life,” Mogherini said in a statement.

“Israel must respect the right to peaceful protest and the principle of proportionality in the use of force. Hamas and those leading the demonstrations in Gaza must ensure that they remain strictly non-violent and must not exploit them for other means.”

Former Italian foreign minister Mogherini urged both sides to return to negotiations, saying that the European Union remained committed to its role in trying to foster peace in the region.

She warned that “any further escalation of an already extremely tense and complex situation would cause again further unspeakable sufferings to both peoples, and will make the perspective of peace and security even more remote.”

The world’s largest body of Muslim-majority nations says it “strongly rejects and condemns” the White House’s “deplorable action” to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation said it considers the US move an “illegal decision” and “an attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people.” The organization said the move Monday also represents “an affront to international peace and security.”

An official source at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s strong condemnation of the targeting of unarmed Palestinian civilians by Israeli occupation forces, resulting in dozens of deaths and injuries.

The source stressed the need for the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to stop the violence and protect the Palestinian people, reiterating the Kingdom’s steadfastness toward the Palestinian cause and restoring their legitimate rights in accordance with the resolutions of international laws and the Arab peace initiative.

Nations over the world strongly condemned the killings and called for restraint on May 14 after dozens of Palestinian protesters were killed and over 2,000 injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers along the border of Gaza.French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the violence of Israeli armed forces against Palestinian protesters, which led to a large number of Palestinian civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip on May 14 and in recent weeks.

Macron made the remarks during his phone calls with Jordanian King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the French presidency said in a statement.

Macron called for restraint and de-escalation and stressed the need for the protests in the coming days to remain peaceful, the French presidency said.

Macron reiterated France's disapproval of the US decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem, in the particular context of the 70th anniversary of Israel's independence and the commemoration of exile for many Palestinian families, said the statement.

"The status of Jerusalem can only be determined between the parties, in a framework negotiated under the auspices of the international community," Macron said.

The German government on May 14 expressed sharp concern about reports that dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops in Gaza while taking part in mass protests, urging Israel to refrain from using live munitions except as a last resort.

"The right to peaceful protest must also apply in Gaza," a foreign ministry spokeswoman said. "Israel has the right to defend itself and secure its (border) fence against violent intrusions, but the principle of proportionality applies."

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said the bloodshed along Gaza’s border with Israel is an “abhorrent violation” of human rights.

“We are witnessing an abhorrent violation of international law and human rights in Gaza.... This must end immediately,” the London-based human rights group said on Twitter.

“This is a violation of international standards, in some instances committing what appear to be wilful killings constituting war crimes,” Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther said in a separate statement.

“As violence continues to spiral out of control, the Israeli authorities must immediately rein in the military to prevent the further loss of life and serious injuries.”

“The rising toll of deaths and injuries today only serves to highlight the urgent need for an arms embargo,” Luther added.

“While some protesters may have engaged in some form of violence, this still does not justify the use of live ammunition.”

Head of International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) sub-delegation in Gaza, Gilan Devorn, on May 14 called for avoiding losses and casualties among Palestinians joining mass protests against Israel in eastern Gaza Strip.

"We call on all parties to take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian casualties and avoid causing losses and casualties," Devorn told a news conference at Shiffa Hospital in Gaza.

Arab News, Xinhua, Reuters