Washington: The UN’s top human rights body will hold a special session to discuss “the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories” after the killing of 60 Palestinians by Israeli troops at mass border protests on Monday.
The meeting came as the office of the prosecutor of the world’s permanent war crimes court on Wednesday expressed “grave concern” about escalating violence in Gaza, and said alleged crimes could be investigated.
“Any new alleged crime committed in the context of the situation in Palestine may be subjected to the office’s legal scrutiny,” a statement said. “This applies to the events of 14 May 2018 and to any future incident.”
Dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire during protests on Monday, the day the United States relocated its Israel embassy to Jerusalem. On Wednesday, a senior Hamas official, Salah Bardawil, claimed 50 were members of the organisation.
Amid the continuing international fallout from the killings, which coincided with the ceremony to mark the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Palestinian foreign ministry announced it was also recalling its ambassadors to four European countries, to protest against their participation in a party held by Israel’s foreign ministry celebrating the opening of the new embassy.
In a rare concession, a senior Israeli military spokesman said the killings by Israeli soldiers had handed a PR victory to Hamas.
According to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, told members of the Jewish Federations of North America: “We haven’t been able to get that message out of how it is from our side, what we are defending – and the ‘winning picture’ overwhelmingly, by a knockout, unfortunately, have been the graphics from the Palestinian side.
“The amount of casualties has done us a tremendous disservice, unfortunately, and it has been very difficult to tell our story.”
On Wednesday the Palestinian foreign ministry said its ambassadors to Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria were being called home for consultations. The European Union objected to the embassy move, but the four European countries broke with EU policy to attend the celebration.
“We highly value our relations with all EU member states. Those relations are based on the commitment to international law, UN resolutions and human rights. Therefore we consider the participation in this event a contradiction to such values,” Amal Jadou, a Palestinian foreign ministry official, told the Associated Press.
The move came as Israel and Turkey traded tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions after the deadly violence along Israel’s border with Gaza. A day after it expelled the Israeli ambassador, Turkey asked Israel’s consul general in Istanbul to leave as well.
Israel, in turn, summoned a top Turkish diplomat to be reprimanded for the humiliation of Israel’s ambassador, Eitan Naeh, as he was kicked out of the country. The ministry accused Turkey of subjecting Naeh to a particularly severe security screening at the airport in Istanbul and inviting local Turkish media to capture the humiliation of him being frisked and forced to remove his shoes and jacket.
The exchanges came less than two years after the countries reconciled and exchanged ambassadors after six years of animosity.
Although a relative calm has descended on Gaza itself since Monday, the Israeli military reported that its tanks shelled a Hamas military post in the Gaza Strip after it said its own forces came under fire.
More than 100 people have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began on 30 March, drawing international accusations that Israel is using excessive force. Israel says it is rightfully defending its sovereign border.