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Turkey, Jordan, Egypt lash Israel for 'disproportionate' force in Gaza

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ADEM ALTAN (AFP/File)

Turkey, Jordan and Egypt on Friday accused Israel of using "disproportionate force" against Palestinians as clashes in Gaza near the Israeli border left at least fifteen people dead and hundreds wounded.

Tens of thousands of people clamored along the border with Israel in protests that Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas had said would be peaceful.

One of the most violent clashes in recent years, dubbed the 'Great March of Return', left 15 dead, according to the Palestinian health ministry, and 1416 wounded.

After a request from Kuwait, the United Nations Security Council is expected to convene on Friday to discuss the violence.

The meeting, to be held at the request of Kuwait, will begin at 6:30 pm (2230 GMT), the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Turkey's foreign ministry was the first to blast Israel, saying in a statement that "We strongly condemn Israel's use of disproportionate force against Palestinians during the peaceful protests today (Friday) in Gaza."

Israel's military said protesters were hurling stones and firebombs at soldiers. There were no reports of Israelis injured or killed.

The Turkish foreign ministry expressed "concerns" over the casualties.

"It is necessary that Israel rapidly ends use of force that would further raise the tensions in the region," it said.

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

"We are inviting the international community to fulfil its responsibility to convince Israel to give up on its hostile attitude."

The Turkish government has been one of the most vocal advocates of the Palestinian cause and criticizes Israeli assaults in Gaza.

Hours later they were joined by official statements from Jordan and Egypt, two other countries which have peace agreements and cordial, although not warm, relations with Israel.

Egypt, which has a border with Gaza and itself imposes a partial blocked on the enclave, issued a foreign ministry statement saying it "denounces the use of force against civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories."

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad Momani was quoted as saying by the official Petra news agency that Amman holds "Israel accountable as the occupation power behind today's violations and for using 'excessive force' against peaceful protesters who were marching to commemorate the Land Day."

The Arab League also condemned Israel over the "brutal" deaths of protesters.

Secretary General Ahmad Abul Gheit said Israel is responsible for "those souls that were annihilated," according to a statement cited by Kuwait's official news agency KUNA.

"Terrorism will not only suppress the Palestinians," he was quoted as saying, referring to Israel, but would "make the situation explode just like what happened today."

Staff with AFP. 

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