Theresa May has called for an independent inquiry into Israel’s use of live ammunition on the Gazan border after admitting she was “deeply troubled” by Monday’s deadly violence.
The Prime Minister also cited the role of Hamas in the demonstrations which left 60 Palestinians dead – but her comments went further than other ministers’ in raising questions about Israel’s use of live rounds in clashes with protesters.
There was relative calm on the border yesterday, as Palestinians held funerals for those killed the previous day.
Threats of violent protests on Tuesday, “Nakba Day”, failed to materialise although two Palestinians were shot dead at the border with Gaza.
Speaking at a press conference in London with visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Prime Minister said yesterday: “There is an urgent need to establish the facts of what happened yesterday through an independent and transparent investigation, including why such a volume of live fire was used and what role Hamas played in events.”
She added: “The loss of life we have seen is tragic and extremely concerning. Such violence is destructive to peace efforts and we call on all sides to show restraint.”
The Israeli army defended its actions, insisting that over 40,000 Palestinians had gathered at the border with the intention of breaking security fences and committing atrocities against their citizens.
A series of videos released by the IDF on social media on Tuesday showed the extent of the protesters’ threats to cause carnage inside Israel.
There were further calls for an independent inquiry into the Gaza deaths from Karen Pierce, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, who said there was an “urgent need to establish the circumstances” surrounding the violence.
She said: “The volume of live fire used in Gaza yesterday and subsequent number of deaths is distressing and cannot be ignored by the council.”
Washington said it would veto a UN security council resolution drafted by Kuwait urging an investigation, because it included criticism of the decision by the US to move their Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, hit out at a criticism of Israel, saying: “Who among us would accept this type of activity on your border?
“No one would. No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”
As the Palestinian representative rose to speak, Ms Haley walked out of the chamber.
The calls for an inquiry came amongst a diplomatic backlash against Israel.
Turkey and South Africa expelled Israel’s ambassador while recalling its own from Tel Aviv. Ireland and Belgium both summoned the Israeli envoys in their countries to explain the actions of the IDF.
President Emmanuel Macron of France said Benjamin Netanyahu must condemn the violence and accept the Palestinian right to protest peacefully.