Israel’s use of force against Palestinian protesters, an unjustifiable action

Thursday, 2018-05-17 12:25:17
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Palestinian demonstrators run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest against US embassy move to Jerusalem at the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City, May 14, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – Many countries around the world have condemned the extremely violent actions aimed at the Palestinian protesters by the Israeli armed forces, which left more than 60 people dead on the opening day of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14.

The escalating tensions have led to diplomatic retaliations between Israel and a number of countries. The “gunpowder” barrel in the Middle East is at risk of exploding if the parties concerned do not show restrained.

The US moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and opening the new headquarters inflamed a wave of protests by Palestinians in the border area between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers cracked down on and shot at the demonstrators in the bloodiest clash between the two sides, killing over 60 Palestinians and injuring more than 2,700 others. Immediately afterwards, many nations strongly criticised Israel’s use of force against the protesters, stating that the Jewish state “used asymmetric forces.”

The UN Security Council summoned an urgent meeting in an attempt to put out the “flames” flaring up in the Gaza Strip. Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, affirmed that Israel must be responsible for the use of force against the Palestinians. The UK, France, and other countries in the European Union (EU), strongly condemned the actions of Israel, while reiterating the EU’s stance on the status of Jerusalem, whereby all three religions, including Judaism, Islam, and Catholicism, have close ties to the holy area and this must be maintained.

France affirmed its security pledges with Israel, but stated that Israel’s security issue cannot account for such a level of violence.

Countries in the region have demonstrated strong opposition to Israel. The Arab League (AL) held an urgent gathering to discuss the situation in Gaza. Notably, Turkey was one of the strongest critics of the violence in Gaza, as well as the US’s embassy move to Jerusalem. Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador in Ankara, while Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim urged Muslim countries to re-examine their relationships with Israel and called for an “extraordinary summit” of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on May 18. In reply, the Israeli Foreign Ministry asked the Turkish consul-general in Jerusalem to leave the country.

Muslims in many countries took to the streets to express their solidarity with the Palestinians. More than 2,000 Turkish people poured down the streets in Istanbul to protest the US’s decision to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Hundreds of Arab students rallied in front of the UN headquarters in the Syrian capital, Damascus, with slogans reading “Jerusalem will always be the capital of Palestine”. Meanwhile, King Mohammed VI of Morocco said that the international consensus in opposing the US’s decision is a “strong message” to support the rights of the Palestinian people. As criticisms from the public were aimed towards Israel, the US still voiced advocacy for its ally, stating that Israel acted with the “most restrain possible” in dealing with the Palestinian protesters.

Palestine in particular, and the international community as a whole, have called for urgent actions to end the “tragedy” that is happening to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Russia voiced its willingness to chair a high-level Palestinian-Israeli meeting to restart direct talks between the two sides. Russia affirmed that the talks should be resumed on the basis of the decisions and principles adopted by the UN Security Council, as well as the Arab Peace Initiative. Despite being an important economic partner of Israel, Russia also had to state that acting outside the boundaries of international law only makes the region more unstable.

The Arab countries in the region pledged their support for the Palestinians’ struggle in restoring their sovereignty and establishing an independent Palestinian state with the capital of East Jerusalem and the pre-1967 borderlines. The international community has affirmed its determination to resolve all problems through dialogue, stressing that the use of force to threaten civilians is unjustifiable. The unilateral change of Jerusalem’s status quo will endanger the efforts to seek a comprehensive and long-term solution to the crisis between Palestine and Israel, causing serious consequences for regional security and stability.