The Latest: Israel says 24 killed at Gaza border ‘militants’

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Updated 8:02 am, Tuesday, May 15, 2018



JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (all times local):

6 p.m.

Israel’s military says at least 24 of the Palestinians killed in a mass march a day earlier at the Gaza border were militants.

It said Tuesday that the gunmen had a “documented terror background” and were members of the Islamic militant Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group.

It said 8 Hamas operatives In one incident attempted to breach the border fence using Palestinian civilians as cover.

It said they threw grenades and shot at troops who had rushed to the scene, and that its troops returned fire and killed the militants.


The military said its forces prevented a “significant” attack.

It released photos of grenades and a gun it said were from the scene.

Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinians in Monday’s clashes.

It was the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas that rules the territory

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5:55 p.m.

A U.N. Security Council meeting on the violence along the border between Israel and Gaza has begun with a moment of silence for the more than 50 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces on Monday, the bloodiest day there since a 2014 war.

Poland’s ambassador, Joanna Wronecka, called for the gesture of remembrance in her role as current council president.

Kuwait called for the session after Monday’s killings. Israel said its troops were defending its border.

The Palestinian envoy wants the council to condemn the killings. Israel’s ambassador is calling for condemnation of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules the coastal strip and led the protests.

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5:30 p.m.

South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has condemned the killing of Palestinians by Israeli troops as a massacre.

The retired Anglican archbishop, 86, issued a statement from his Cape Town home on Tuesday about the killing of Palestinian protesters.

“I am deeply distressed and broken hearted by the massacre perpetrated by the State of Israel in Gaza yesterday,” said the statement. “I pray to God to open the eyes and hearts of all citizens of the Holy Land — and of political and religious leaders across the world — to assist them to recognize our common humanity and membership of God’s family. People who recognize the humanity in others do not author or perpetrate massacres.”

Tutu, who has been treated for prostate cancer and has been hospitalized several times for infections, occasionally issues statements on issues he believes are important. Last year he criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Tutu said that “God was weeping” at Trump’s decision.

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5:20 p.m.

Belgium’s foreign minister Didier Reynders is summoning the Israeli ambassador after she indicated that all Palestinians killed in Monday’s violence were “terrorists.”

Prime Minister Charles Michel said he was “shocked” by the interview with RTBF in which ambassador Simona Frankel said that those who died in Monday’s clashes “are terrorists, 55 terrorists.”

Reynders said that “the comment that consisted of saying that all killed or hurt were terrorists — that we can obviously not accept.”

He also took offense to the Frankel’s comment that Israeli soldiers had to act before their were casualties on their side.

“There were two statements I could not accept: One on proportionality of force by saying they could not wait for Israeli casualties — there were none,” he said.

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4:45 p.m.

Turkey’s official news agency says the country has asked Israel’s ambassador to temporarily leave Turkey.

Anadolu news agency said Tuesday the Turkish foreign ministry notified Eitan Na’eh, the Israeli ambassador that “it would be appropriate for him to return to his country for some time.”

The ministry summoned the ambassador to protest Israel’s use of deadly force on Palestinians and the U.S. decision to relocate its embassy there to contested Jerusalem.

Turkey has also called home its ambassadors to Washington and Tel Aviv for consultations.

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4 p.m.

Turkey says it is prepared to take in wounded Palestinians after Israeli fire killed dozens and wounded hundreds during Monday’s Gaza border protests.

Speaking Tuesday, Health Minister Ahmet Demircan said Turkey’s emergency agency and the military had prepared an “air bridge” to transport wounded Gazans and were waiting for negotiations to conclude.

He says the wounded are at high risk due to insufficient health care in Gaza, which has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade for more than 10 years.

Demircan’s comments were carried by Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency.

Turkey has strongly condemned the U.S. decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem and Israel’s use of deadly force on Palestinians protesting the move. The new embassy was inaugurated on Monday.

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3:50 p.m.

Germany says it supports calls for an independent investigation into the killing of dozens of Palestinians by Israeli forces during protests in Gaza.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert says the violence “concerns us greatly and it’s terrible that so many people lost their lives, including minors.”

Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday that the right to peaceful protest should exist in Gaza too, but blamed the Palestinian group Hamas for firing up tensions on the day the United States unveiled its new embassy in Jerusalem.

He said: “Hamas is trying to escalate the violence. That is cynical.”

The U.N. Security Council is planning to meet Tuesday to discuss the violence. Germany isn’t currently a member, but it is seeking a seat in the coming term.

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3:40 p.m.

Belgium is calling for an international investigation into Monday’s escalation in violence along the Gaza border, where Israeli soldiers shot and killed more than 50 Palestinians during mass protests.

Prime Minister Charles Michel on Tuesday linked the violence on the border with the Trump administration’s decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy to contested Jerusalem despite international and Palestinian protests.

Michel said the violence and killings would be moved onto the calendar of the European Union summit in Sofia on Wednesday and Thursday.

Michel called the Israeli actions “unacceptable violence,” saying “there is a clear lack of proportionality and we are asking for an international investigation.”

He said he was outraged by the violence, especially in contrast with the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on the same day.

He said “we knew that there was a great risk, that this decision to move the embassy would bring less security, bring tragedies, and sadly we were right.”

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3:30 p.m.

The U.N. human rights office says Israel has repeatedly violated international norms by using deadly live fire to repel protesters from its border with Gaza, suggesting its forces should arrest anyone who reaches the fence.

Office spokesman Rupert Colville reiterated calls for an independent investigation into Israel’s use of lethal force in border demonstrations in recent weeks, including the deadliest incident on Monday, when dozens were killed.

Colville said rules under international law “have been ignored again and again.” He told a U.N. briefing Tuesday in Geneva: “It seems anyone is liable to be shot dead or injured: women, children, press personnel, first responders, bystanders…”

Israel says it is only targeting “instigators.”

Colville acknowledged Israel’s right to defend its borders, but said lethal force should be a “last resort.”

“If people reach a fence: Arrest them.”

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2:55 p.m.

South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Israel, and its international relations minister Lindiwe Sisulu is condemning Israeli troops’ use of deadly force against Palestinians.

Pro-Palestinian marches were set to take place Tuesday in Cape Town, in front of the U.S. consulate in Johannesburg and in the capital Pretoria amid some calls for the South African government to expel Israel’s ambassador.

Sisulu said she had phoned U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to voice South Africa’s unhappiness with the violence.

South Africa’s three largest political parties — the ruling African National Congress, the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters — joined the government in condemning the violence at the Gaza border

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2:15 p.m.

Gaza health officials are casting doubt on initial claims that a 9-month-old baby died from Israeli tear gas fired during mass protests on the Gaza border with Israel.

A medical doctor said Tuesday that the baby, Layla Ghandour, had a pre-existing medical condition and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of he was not allowed to disclose medical information to the media.

Layla’s family claimed Tuesday that the baby had ended up in the area of the protest as a result of a mix-up. The Gaza Health Ministry initially counted her among several dozen Palestinians killed Monday.

A Gaza human rights group, Al Mezan, says it is looking into the circumstances of the infant’s death.

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1:45 p.m.

Ireland’s foreign ministry has summoned the Israeli ambassador to express “shock and dismay” over the latest bloodshed in the Gaza Strip and is calling for an independent investigation.

Gaza health officials say Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinians, most by gunfire, and injured more than 2,700 in border protests Monday.

Ireland says that during Tuesday’s meeting with the Israeli ambassador, it also said it was “very disturbed” by injuries to more than 200 health workers in Gaza.

“The ambassador has been informed of Irish demands for an independent international investigation into yesterday’s deaths lead by the U.N.,” a statement said.

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1:40 p.m.

Palestinians are clashing with Israeli troops in the West Bank a day after deadly clashes killed dozens in the Gaza Strip.

Thick black smoke billowed from burning tires as Palestinians threw stones at Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas. About 200 Palestinians were protesting in the biblical city of Bethlehem while another 100 were demonstrating in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

Palestinians are marking the anniversary Tuesday of what they call their “nakba,” or catastrophe, a reference to the uprooting of hundreds of thousands who fled or were expelled during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinians in Monday’s clashes in Gaza. Organizers say the weekly protests are meant to bust a decade-old blockade on the territory. Israel says Hamas is using the demonstrations as cover to carry out attacks.

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1:30 p.m.

Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah have marked the 70th anniversary of their mass displacement with a 70-second siren.

People stood at attention and traffic stopped in parts of the city Tuesday to mark the moment, though in some areas, the sirens appeared to malfunction and could barely be heard.

Palestinians mark May 15 as their “nakba,” or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands of people either fled or were expelled from their homes.

This year, the occasion was especially sad for Palestinians, coming a day after the U.S. opened its new embassy to Israel in Jerusalem and 58 Palestinians were killed in Gaza during protests along the Israeli border.

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1:10 p.m.

The World Health Organization says the number of protesters wounded in border clashes with Israel was “very overwhelming” for Gaza’s health system.

Citing figures from the Health Ministry and a group of aid agencies, WHO official Mahmoud Daher told The Associated Press Tuesday that 2,771 people were wounded in Monday’s unrest. Of those, 1,360 were wounded by live fire, 400 from shrapnel and 980 from gas inhalation. He said the majority of those wounded by live fire were struck in their lower limbs.

Daher says that nearly 1,800 of the wounded sought hospital care, putting additional pressure on Gaza’s already stressed hospitals, which endure equipment and medicine shortages and face power cuts like the rest of the territory.

Daher says the numbers were comparable to wartime situations. “It is really massive in terms of numbers,” he said

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12:55 p.m.

Turkey has lowered flags to half-mast to mark three days of mourning for the Palestinians killed and wounded in the Gaza border protest.

The gesture comes as the government invites members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for an extraordinary session Friday.

Speaking late Monday, the Turkish government’s spokesman announced the official mourning period after Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinians, most by gunfire, as they protested the Gaza blockade and the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Bekir Bozdag slammed Israel for the “massacre” and said “the U.S. now has Palestinian blood on its hands.” He said the day would be remembered as “bloody Monday.”

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11:45 a.m.

China is calling on Israel to exercise restraint along its border with Gaza a day after 58 Palestinians were killed in a protest.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Tuesday that China “opposes violent acts targeting innocent people” and urges all sides to avoid escalating tensions.

Lu said China believes in a two-state resolution and that the status of Jerusalem should be resolved through dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis in accordance with relevant U.N. resolutions.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have rallied in recent weeks near Israel’s border fence to protest a blockade of Gaza and the move of the U.S. Embassy to contested Jerusalem.

China has long championed the Palestinian cause while also maintaining close economic, diplomatic and military relations with Israel.

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11:40 a.m.

The government of Muslim-majority Malaysia says the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem will jeopardize efforts toward finding a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict.

Its foreign ministry said in a statement that security in the region will be undermined and sentiments inflamed, hampering any future peace negotiations.

The statement said, “Malaysia wishes to reiterate its firm position that a two-state solution, in which the Palestinians and the Israelis live side by side in peace, based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine is the only viable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

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9:25 a.m.

The Israeli military says its aircraft have struck a number of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to mass border protests.

The military says Tuesday it struck 11 “terror targets” in a Hamas military compound. Tanks targeted another two Hamas posts in the Gaza Strip.

The military says that protesters used 10 explosive devices and firebombs against troops and that shots were fired at soldiers positioned along the border. While there was no breach of the border fence, the military says many protesters attempted to enter Israel.

Israeli fire killed 58 Palestinians in Monday’s protest. On Tuesday, Palestinians mark the 70th anniversary of their uprooting during the war surrounding Israel’s creation, known as their “nakba,” or catastrophe

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8:45 a.m.

Palestinians will be burying their dead Tuesday after 58 people were killed by Israel during Gaza border protests.

Khaled Batch, the head of the grassroots organizing committee of the protests, says Tuesday will be a day for funerals, suggesting there were no plans for border marches. Israeli media reported some tents where protesters have been gathering have been taken down at the border.

Tuesday is what Palestinians call their “nakba” anniversary, or catastrophe marking the creation of Israel 70 years ago.

Gaza health officials say the Palestinian death toll from a day of mass border protests Monday has risen to 58, including 57 people killed by Israeli fire and a baby who died from tear gas inhalation.



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