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US blocks Kuwait-led UN statement to investigate Gaza violence for second time

United Nations Security Council
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
This followed on from a similar draft statement proposed last week blocked by the US

The United States blocked a UN Security Council statement calling for an independent investigation into the Israeli-Palestinian clashes along the Gaza border on Friday, a week after rejecting a similar statement.

The Palestinian's ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour called the US veto "very irresponsible" adding that it gave Israel "the green light to continue with their onslaught against the civilian population" in Gaza, according to the Times of Israel.

“We will not give up,” Mansour said. “We will continue knocking on doors.”

Speaking to reporters at the UN he said that 14 of the 15 council nations had agreed to the draft statement but the US had opposed it.

On Friday afternoon Kuwait called on the UN Security Council, to back an independent inquiry on the Israeli-Palestinian clashes, a week after a failed attempt to do the same thing.

"It's a matter the Security Council should address," said Kuwait's UN ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi.

The text brought by Kuwait, a non-permanent member of the Security Council representing Arab countries, is the same as the one it submitted earlier which was blocked by Washington. In addition to calling for an independent and transparent probe into the clashes, it also reaffirms the Palestinians’ right to peaceful protest and calls on all sides to practise restraint.

The Palestinian UN ambassador Riyad Mansour said that if the UN does nothing it "is encouraging Israel" in its operations against Palestinians. If the Security Council fails to act then the Palestinian side could take the issue to the wider UN General Assembly, he added.

Danny Danon, Israeli ambassador to the UN said that the council “should condemn Hamas, which uses children as human shields while risking their lives, and must call for the end of these provocations which can only increase the violence and tensions.”

It was expected that Washington would again oppose Kuwait's move, a diplomat from a UN Security Council nation said later on Friday.

Last Saturday the US blocked a draft statement introduced by Kuwait, again calling for a probe into the violence and also expressing “grave concern at the situation at the border.”

MOHAMMED ABED (AFP)

Meanwhile the Palestinian representative in Washington warned Friday that the situation in Gaza was explosive and that the region cannot afford to wait for the promised new US peace plan.

Approximately 20,000 protesters surged the Gaza border on Friday in the second week of what has been deemed the “March of Return” protests to mark Palestinians displacement from their homes amid Israel’s creation in 1948.

Palestinians burned mounds of tires and threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers over the border fence, who responded with tear gas, water cannons and live fire.

The death toll for those Palestinians killed now, according to Haaretz, sits at 9. Gaza's health ministry also reported that 408 Palestinians had been taken to hospitals and medical centers for treatment.

Hamas's leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, hailed the protests and condemned Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

"They said Gaza would give up its principles, its project of liberation and (dream) of return if they starve it, but Gaza is coming out today," he said to protesters east of Khan Yunis.

The IDF said "attempts were made to infiltrate into Israel under the cover of a smoke screen."

It also said explosive devices and firebombs were thrown, adding that soldiers opened fire "in accordance with the rules of engagement".

Israeli army spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis defined the day's events as a success.

AP Photo/Adel Hana

However, Israel has faced mounting international criticism for its use of live fire. UN chief Antonio Guterres called for restraint ahead of the new protest, after 20 Palestinians were killed in last week’s Friday clashes.

"I particularly urge Israel to exercise extreme caution with the use of force in order to avoid casualties," he said.

Israel says more than half of the dead from the previous Friday were members of militant groups, including the armed wing of Hamas, however it did not reveal what it knows about those killed in the most recent clashes.

Hamas's armed wing has claimed only five of them, saying they were participating "in popular events side-by-side with their people".Militant group Islamic Jihad has claimed at least one of the dead as a member. Militant group Islamic Jihad has claimed at least one of the dead as a member.

Protests will run until the expected opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem in mid-May following US President’s controversial announcement on December 6. The US move deepened anger among the Palestinians who see the eastern sector of Jerusalem as their future state.

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