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Israel condemned for 'eye for an eyelash' violence in Gaza deaths

Palestinians bury Gaza dead as Israel faces backlash
Credit: MAHMUD HAMS, AFP/Getty Images
A Palestinian woman holding her national flag looks at clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018, as Palestinians protest over the inauguration of the U.S. embassy following its controversial move to Jerusalem.

Palestinians buried their dead Tuesday as global condemnation intensified against Israel one day after Israeli troops killed scores of protesters and wounded thousands more along the Gaza border.

Two more Palestinians were killed Tuesday in clashes with Israeli soldiers in Gaza's al-Bureij refugee camp. Protests were smaller and generally quieter than Monday, with funerals drawing the biggest crowds as thousands mourned and waved Palestinian flags.

In Gaza City, hundreds attended the  funeral of 8-month-old Leila al-Ghandour, who died of tear gas exposure, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The child was one of 59 Palestinians killed in Monday's clashes with the Israeli military along the fence line, the deadliest day of violence  in the region since 2014. 

Michael Lynk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territory, condemned Israel’s response to the largely unarmed demonstrators. 

“This blatant excessive use of force by Israel — an eye for an eyelash — must end, and there must be true accountability for those in military and political command who have ordered or allowed this force to be once again employed at the Gaza fence,” Lynk said.

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The U.N. Security Council met to discuss the violence but wrapped up for the day without taking action. Nikki Haley, the American envoy to the U.N., blamed Hamas for the violence and said Israel acted with restraint.

A ceremony Monday formally moving the U.S. Embassy in Israeli to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv outraged Palestinians who have long hoped to create a capital for themselves in the city's eastern sector. Haley, however, said the move was no excuse for violence.

“The Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy," she said.

In South Africa, thousands marched in Cape Town and the government recalled its ambassadors to Israel. Turkey recalled its ambassadors to Israel and the United States. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called Israel's response unacceptable, adding that "firing live rounds on protesters is shameful."

Germany was among nations calling for an independent U.N. investigation, although Chancellor Angela Merkel said she "understands Israel's security needs." Alistair Burt, the United Kingdom's minister for the Middle East, said Monday's  violence was "shocking" and "extremely worrying."

“The U.K. remains committed to a two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital. All sides now need to show real leadership and courage," Burt said in a statement.

Doctors without Borders, which said its medical teams were “working around the clock” to treat many of the wounded, said the Israeli army "must stop its disproportionate use of violence against Palestinian protesters."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended the use of force, saying every country must defend its borders. 

Palestinians began a series of protests six weeks ago dubbed the Great March of Return. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in clashes since the protests began. Hamas Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, called for an "Islamic intifada," or uprising, in response to the deaths.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, with protesters east of Gaza City, vowed that the protests will continue.

"Our message today is the Return March and siege-breaking is going on," he said. "The massacre, the Israeli occupation committed against our ... youths will only increase our steadfastness."

Contributing: The Associated Press

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