The UN on Friday expressed concern over Israeli violence against Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, urging Tel Aviv to allow peaceful protests and restrict itself to proportionate force if needed.
“We continue to follow the protests in Gaza with concern,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at a press briefing, saying that the UN continues to get reports on the violence.
Calling on “all parties” to exercise maximum restraint and avoid confrontation, Dujarric said UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov is in contact with various parties on the ground in the Gaza Strip to reinforce the call for sobriety.
He also particularly addressed Israel, saying that Tel Aviv needs to allow people to demonstrate peacefully and ensure both that excessive force is not used and that children are not deliberately targeted.
Since Friday morning, thousands of Palestinians have converged on the Gaza Strip’s eastern border with Israel to take part in ongoing anti-occupation demonstrations.
At least seven Palestinians were martyred by Israeli army gunfire from the other side of the border, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Casualties include an as-yet-unidentified child shot near the strip’s eastern border.
Two of the others have been identified as Osama Khamis Qudeih, who was shot east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, and Magdi Shabat, who was shot on Gaza City’s western outskirts.
At least 1,070 other Palestinians were injured on Friday, including five who are now in serious condition, the ministry said.
At least 21 Palestinians were martyred and at least 1,500 others wounded in March 30 demonstrations marking Land Day, when tens of thousands of Gazans converged on the Gaza Strip’s roughly 45-kilometer eastern border with Israel to reaffirm their right to return to their ancestral homes in historical Palestine.
Dubbed the “Great March of Return,” the protests also intended to pressure Israel to lift its more than decade-long blockade of Gaza.
Israel has deployed thousands of troops along the fraught border, vowing to use deadly force against anyone who threatens the “Israeli security infrastructure.”
The UN Security Council the same day called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Gaza and demanded an “independent and transparent investigation” into the Israeli violence.
But it failed to condemn the Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters and no statement was passed due to rejection by the U.S.