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Belgium summons Israeli envoy, calls for Gaza inquiry

Palestinian protesters run during clashes with Israeli forces near the Gaza border on May 15, 2018
SAID KHATIB (AFP)

Belgium on Tuesday demanded a United Nations inquiry into the violence in Gaza and summoned Israel's ambassador to the foreign ministry after she described all the Palestinian victims as "terrorists."

Belgium's foreign ministry said it summoned ambassador Simona Frankel over her remarks while Prime Minister Charles Michel said: "We call for an international inquiry led by the United Nations."

The Belgian move adds to a wave of diplomatic rebukes of Israel from countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Earlier on Tuesday Turkey announced it was expelling Israel's envoy in Ankara after withdrawing its own ambassador in Tel Aviv a day earlier.

South Africa's government has also pulled its envoy from Israel while Ireland on Tuesday said it was summoning Israel's ambassador in Dublin for talks.

Belgium's Michel called for an investigation into the violence in which 60 Palestinians were killed on the border with Israel as the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem. The Belgian call came after the United Kingdom and Germany also threw their support behind calls for an inquiry. 

EMMANUEL DUNAND (AFP/File)

"The violence committed in the Gaza Strip yesterday is unacceptable. We call for an international inquiry led by the United Nations," Michel said in a joint statement with Foreign Minister Didier Reynders.

The strongly worded statement said the Israeli army crackdown amounted to a "disproportionate use of force" against civilians, adding: "Firing live rounds on protesters is shameful."

The Belgians also criticized the United States, warning that the "unilateral decision of President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and transfer the US embassy there takes us still further from peace."

Separately the Belgian foreign ministry told AFP it summoned Israeli ambassador Simona Frankel to explain her remarks.

Frankel had said on Belgian broadcaster RTBF: "I really regret the loss of each human being who died, whatever their nationality, even if they are terrorists."

"They are all [terrorists]," Frankel said when asked to clarify. "Look at the people who take a baby toward a fence. These are not peaceful demonstrators."

Belgium's Reynders said: "To say that all the people who were killed were terrorists, that is beyond belief."

Comments

(1)

Belgium should be extremely concerned about Molenbeek.

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