Death toll in Gaza rises to 59, more protests against Israel planned

Palestinians
Gaza’s health ministry said most of the 59 Palestinians who were killed on Monday were shot by Israeli snipers.

NEW DELHI Israel faced massive criticism on Monday after Israeli forces shot dead at least 59 Palestinians in Gaza during protests coinciding with the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, said media reports on Tuesday.

The Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as their capital, have cut off ties with the Trump administration and say the US is unfit to serve as a mediator. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognised.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, furious over the embassy ceremony, said he would not accept any peace deal proposed by the Trump administration.

Gaza’s health ministry said most of the 59 Palestinians who were killed on Monday were shot by Israeli snipers. The deaths included a baby who died because of suffocation from tear gas along with eight children under the age of 16, the ministry said. At least 2,400 others were also injured on Monday.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said the protests in Gaza would continue on Tuesday.

In the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas declared a general strike on Tuesday after accusing Israel of “massacres”.

On Monday, tens of thousands of Palestinians had gathered near the border to protest while smaller numbers of stone-throwing Palestinians approached the fence and sought to break through, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side. However, Israeli military said 40,000 Palestinians had taken part in the protests and clashes.

The death toll led to strong condemnation from rights groups and concern from a range of countries.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas, and defended his country’s use of force, saying “every country has the obligation to defend its borders”.

Many countries, including Turkey, United Kingdom and France have condemned the attack.

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