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Gaza Violence: Minister Says Israel Not Afraid of Being Dragged to ICC

Palestinian leadership has accused Israel of a "massacre" in Monday's deadly riots and many countries have condemned Israel's reaction to the protests as excessive.

PTI

Updated:May 15, 2018, 7:58 PM IST
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Gaza Violence: Minister Says Israel Not Afraid of Being Dragged to ICC
A wounded Palestinian demonstrator is evacuated during a protest against US embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip on May 14, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
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Jerusalem: Unfazed by the prospect of Israel being dragged to the International Criminal Court following the death of 59 Palestinians in Gaza in violent clashes with Israeli forces, a top Israeli minister has said that her country is not worried as it "operates by international law".

Palestinian leadership has accused Israel of a "massacre" in Monday's deadly riots and many countries have condemned Israel's reaction to the protests as excessive.

Asked during an interview if Israel should be worried about lawsuits at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that the troops had done "nothing illegal" in the face of demonstrators' violence.

"Israel Defence Forces (IDF) are acting very very well, acting by the open-fire protocols and it is all within the boundaries of judiciary and law," Shaked told Army Radio.

"Security forces are doing a very good job and containing events," she said adding, "Hamas is sacrificing its people for political purposes, but the IDF can handle the situation. I hope they got the message yesterday and things don't get out of control".

She even went on to the extent of saying that if Israel wanted "the Gaza border to be completely quiet, there is no choice but to conquer the Strip", but promptly added, "I don't think that should be done at this time".

The right-wing politician also played down mounting international criticism saying, "It is unpleasant, but we have a lot of experience, and we can deal with it".

Several other Israeli leaders and legislators also defended Israel's conduct and placed the blame for yesterday's death toll, the highest since 2014 Operation Protective Edge, squarely on the shoulders of Palestinians.

Ultra-nationalist Defence Minister, Avigdor Liberman, said Israelis' celebration in Tel Aviv last night of the recent Eurovision win was a prime example of the differences between Israeli and Palestinian mindsets.

"Yesterday tens of thousands of Israelis gathered at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square for a musical performance," he tweeted.

"In Gaza, on the other hand, thousands gathered to infiltrate Israel to commit acts of terror. That's the difference between Israel's culture of life and Hamas's culture of death in Gaza," Lieberman said.

Israeli forces were gearing up today for a second straight day of Palestinian protests and the prospect that they may spread while Gazans prepared to bury their dead.

May 15 is observed by the Palestinians as the Nakba day, or the day of catastrophe commemorating the displacement of Palestinian Arabs during the 1948 war with Israel, and was expected to be the culmination of seven weeks of ongoing protests at the Gaza Strip border fence.

Israel has blamed Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip since June 2007 when it ousted rival Fatah faction in a bloody struggle, for the deadly violence saying the terror group encouraged and led the protests that included attacks on Israeli troops and attempts to breach the border fence.

Likud lawmaker Avi Dichter, chairman of the Knesset's (Israeli parliament) Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said he believed protests had not yet reached their peak.

"We are not seeing things winding down," he told Army Radio. "Nakba Day will be the climax", Dichter emphasised adding, We can't allow a wave of riled up people breaching the fence.

Israel's left-wing Meretz party, however, called for restraint and did not condone Israel's actions on the border.

Arab Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi echoed the Palestinian Authority in his condemnation of the Israeli military action calling it a "massacre" of unarmed people.

Tibi rejected Israel's accusations that Palestinians were attacking troops and trying to commit terror acts as a spin.

"Even if five people had crossed the fence, they could have been arrested," he said.

Several countries have condemned the escalating violence, questioning disproportionate use of force by Israel while urging Hamas to refrain from violence.

The EU called for "utmost restraint" by all sides. As per local media reports, South Africa and Turkey have recalled their ambassadors from Israel, with Ankara accusing Jerusalem of "genocide".

The United States has blocked the adoption of a UN Security Council statement that would have called for an independent probe of the violence.
The council is due to hold an emergency meeting on the violence today at the request of Kuwait.
| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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