At an emergency meeting of the Security Council this morning, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley cast blame for the deaths of Palestinian protesters in Gaza yesterday on Hamas and Iran.
Haley stated Iran had ramped up military activity in the region over the last week creating a “reckless provocation and escalation.” Iranian rockets fired from Syria into the Golan Heights and proxy militants striking Saudi Arabia, she said, “is an example of regional violence that should occupy our attention here in the Security Council,” adding, “In recent days, Hamas terrorists, backed by Iran, have incited attacks against Israeli security forces and infrastructure. That is violence that should occupy our attention, too.”
“The common thread in all of this is the destabilizing conduct of the Iranian regime – a regime that insists on promoting violence throughout the Middle East, while depriving its own people of basic human rights,” she continued.
On Hamas, Haley said the group “has attacked the Kerem Shalom crossing, the biggest entry point in Gaza for fuel, food, and medical supplies. This is how determined they are to make the lives of the Palestinian people miserable. They light Molotov cocktails attached to kites on fire and attempt to fly them into Israel to cause as much destruction as possible.”
Haley said the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem was not a factor in yesterday’s violence where 61 demonstrators were killed by Israeli forces including 8 minors, of whom youngest casualty was 8-month old Laila al-Ghandour, according to Gaza’s ministry of health.
“The United States’ action yesterday promoted the reality and the desire for peace,” she said.
Haley went on to describe, “Those who suggest that the Gaza violence has anything to do with the location of the American embassy are sorely mistaken. Rather, the violence comes from those who reject the existence of the state of Israel in any location. Such a motivation – the destruction of a United Nations Member State – is so illegitimate as to not be worth our time in the Security Council, other than the time it takes to denounce it,” Haley said.
These were not demonstrations. They were violent riots. They planted explosive devices & rolled burning tires. They have sent flaming materials over the fence, igniting fires on our agricultural lands. They have attempted to breach the fence & infiltrate Israeli territory 1/6
— Ambassador Danon (@dannydanon) May 15, 2018
In the same session Israel’s representative Danny Danon said the demonstrators were not civilians, “These were not demonstrations. They were violent riots. They planted explosive devices and rolled burning tires. They have sent flaming materials over the fence, igniting fires on our agricultural lands,” adding, “Everyone who claims the decision to move the US embassy is the reason,or the justification, for Palestinian violence should take another look at history. This is an excuse, not a reason for violence against Israel.”
Yet officials with the United Nations disagreed.
The UN Special Coordinator on Middle East Peace Nickolay Mladenov called for an investigation into Israel’s actions.
“Who can possibly find words to console the mother of a child that has been killed? Who?” adding, “I call on all to join me in condemning in the strongest possible terms the actions that have led to the loss of many lives in Gaza.”
The Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville later released a statement calling Israel’s actions in Gaza “appalling.”
“The rules on the use of force under international law have been repeated many times but appear to have been ignored again and again,” Colville said, “It seems anyone is liable to be shot dead or injured: women, children, press personnel, first responders, bystanders, and at almost any point up to 700m from the fence.”
Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, today condemned Israeli soldiers on their use of force against the demonstrators.
“This blatant excessive use of force by Israel – an eye for an eyelash – must end,” Lynk said, further accusing Israel of committing a “war crime,”
“The killing of demonstrators in violation of these rules, and within the context of occupation, may amount to willful killing, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as a war crime,” he said.
Yesterday Kuwait circulated a draft statement to members of the Security Council, which called for countries to keep their embassies in Tel Aviv and to launch an investigation into potential crimes by Israel over the killings in Gaza. The State Department told the AP, the U.S. blocked the initiative because it was “too one-sided.”