UK calls for independent investigation into Israel-Gaza killings
London/Berlin/Cairo — On Tuesday, Britain called for an "independent investigation" into the violence on the Israel-Gaza border that left 60 people dead, after the US blocked a UN Security Council statement calling for an investigation.
"The UK supports an independent investigation into what has happened," Alistair Burt, a minister at the foreign office responsible for Middle East affairs, told parliament.
Germany signaled its support for such a probe. "It is our view that an independent investigation commission can clarify the violent incidents and the bloody violations at the border area," said German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert.
Germany also blamed the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which controls Gaza, for stoking the flames. "It is clear that everyone has the right to peaceful protest, but it is just as clear that this right to peaceful protest should not be abused in order to provoke violence."
The UK’s Burt called on Israel to show "greater restraint" in the use of live fire, and said that the inquiry should look into why so much was used. However, he also said it was "deplorable, but real, that extremist elements have been exploiting these protests", adding the UK government "understands the reasons why Israel would seek to protect its border and its border fence".
Meanwhile, the Arab League’s permanent committee on human rights has urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to urgently investigate "the crimes of the Israeli occupation" against Palestinians. "Israel is an oppressive and murderous entity and its politicians and officers must be taken to the ICC," Amjad Shamout, the committee’s chairman, said in a statement.
The Arab League will hold emergency talks on Wednesday to discuss what it has called Washington’s "illegal" relocation of its embassy to the disputed city.
Most of the 60 Gazans killed on Monday were shot by Israeli snipers, Gaza’s health ministry said. At least 2,400 others were wounded in the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war, which took place as the US unveiled its new embassy.
Burt repeated Britain’s commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict, and said it did not agree with the US decision to move its embassy. He also told parliament that the government had "no information to suggest UK-supplied equipment" was used against Gazans.
On Monday, tens of thousands had gathered near the border in protest while smaller numbers approached the fence and tried to break through, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.
The death toll led to strong condemnation from rights groups and concern from a range of countries, but the US, which blamed Hamas, blocked the adoption of a UN Security Council statement that would have called for an independent probe into the violence, diplomats said.