US at UN: Israel acted with ‘restraint’ in Gaza clash
United Nations – U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday that Israel had acted with “restraint” in its deadly confrontation with Palestinians at the Gaza border, while Kuwait’s ambassador urged the U.N. Security Council to offer protection to unarmed Palestinians.
After ambassadors joined in a moment of silence for the more than 50 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the bloodiest day in Gaza since a 2014 war, divisions among council members quickly re-emerged.
Haley said Israel was facing Hamas extremists who incited people who lobbed flaming objects toward the Israeli side of the border fence and urged protest marchers to breach it.
“Who among us would accept this type of activity on your border? No one would,” she said. “No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”
Haley also insisted the violence had nothing to do with the opening of a U.S. embassy in contested Jerusalem, saying that Gaza’s Hamas rulers have been inciting violence there for years. Palestinians condemned the embassy opening as taking Israel’s side in their conflict.
Kuwait’s envoy, who requested the meeting, said that Israel was violating international law and that the council needs to offer protection unarmed Palestinians.
“The Palestinian people are looking to the United Nations and the Security Council to activate what this organization has taken upon itself in order to achieve the maintenance of international peace and security,” said Kuwaiti Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi.
More than 50 Palestinians were killed and over 1,200 wounded by Israeli gunfire amid mass protests Monday. Israel said its troops were defending its border and accused Hamas militants of trying to attack under the cover of the protest.
No joint statement or action followed a similar meeting after protests in March, and two U.N. diplomats said members couldn’t reach unanimous agreement Monday on issuing a proposed statement circulated by Kuwait. The diplomats insisted on speaking anonymously because the discussions were supposed to be private.
The draft statement, obtained by The Associated Press, would have expressed “outrage and sorrow” at the killings, sought an “independent and transparent investigation,” and called on all sides to exercise restraint.
It also would have demanded that all countries comply with a decades-old Security Council resolution that called on them not to have embassies in contested Jerusalem.
The U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution in December that would have required President Donald Trump to rescind his declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Earlier Monday, the Palestinian U.N. envoy urged the United Nations’ most powerful body to condemn the killings. Israel, meanwhile, called on the council to condemn Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules the coastal strip and led the protests.
Israel isn’t a council member, nor are the Palestinians.
Monday’s violence came as the U.S. and Israel celebrated the embassy opening, the first official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after 70 years. The move infuriated Palestinians, who seek eastern Jerusalem as a future capital of their own.
“A great day for Israel!” Trump tweeted.
“A tragic day for the Palestinians,” retorted their U.N. ambassador, Riyad Mansour. In remarks to reporters and a letter to the Security Council president, he called on the council to “make its voice heard to stop the carnage,” bring those responsible to justice and protect civilians.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said the council needed to speak out against Hamas.
“Every casualty on the border is a victim of Hamas’ war crimes, every death is a result of Hamas’ terror activity, and these casualties are solely Hamas’ responsibility,” Danon said in a statement.
The demonstration Monday culminated a weekslong Palestinian campaign against a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Protesters set tires ablaze, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air, and hurled firebombs and stones toward Israeli soldiers across the border.
The Israeli military said Hamas tried to carry out bombing and shooting attacks under the cover of the protests and released video of protesters ripping away parts of the barbed-wire border fence.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “profoundly alarmed and concerned by the sharp escalation of violence” and the number of dead.
“It is imperative that everyone shows the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life,” he tweeted Tuesday.
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