Palestinian protests at Gaza border delayed as funerals take place for at least 58 dead


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinians delayed protesting at the Gaza border fence on Tuesday afternoon as funerals for the at least 58 victims of the previous date’s violence took place.

Of the dead in Monday’s violent demonstrations, one is reported to be a baby who died of inhaling tear gas. At least five of the dead were minors. Some 1,360 Palestinians were wounded by gunfire, including 130 who were in serious or critical condition, the Gaza Health Ministry told Israeli media. Palestinian sources told Israeli media that at least 10 of the dead were Hamas terror operatives.

Some 50,000 Palestinians protested at the border on Monday.

The Hamas terrorist organization, which runs the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday closed protest tents near the Gaza border and called on civilians to not protest, Haaretz reported.

Protests could still take place later Tuesday, following the funerals, according to reports. Israeli troops are prepared for more violent protests, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

“We have prepared for this in the last three weeks,” said Lt. Col. Motti Sahar, logistics officer of the Gaza Division, in a statement.

Tuesday’s delayed demonstrations could grow since May 15 is the annual observation of Nakba Day, or Catastrophe Day, which mourns Israel gaining statehood and the displacement of the Palestinians. Nakba Day was to be observed and protested on Monday this year, as part of the Great March protests and to coincide with the dedication of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Violent protests also could take place in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the IDF warned.

The United Nations Security Council was expected to hold an emergency session on Tuesday to discuss responses to the Gaza border fence clashes. The United States is expected to veto any one-sided resolutions against Israel regarding the clashes, according to Israeli media.

The European Union in a statement issued on Tuesday called for “restraint” on both sides. Tuesday’s statement regarding the violence on the border with Gaza differs from previous statements on protests at the Gaza border by specifically mentioning the terror group Hamas.

“We expect all to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life. Israel must respect the right to peaceful protest and the principle of proportionality in the use of force. Hamas and those leading the demonstrations in Gaza must ensure that they remain strictly non-violent and must not exploit them for other means,” said E.U. High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini.

Mogherini called for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In this moment, wisdom and courage would be needed to go back to negotiations for a political solution, for the sake of both the Israeli and the Palestinian people, and the entire region,” she said.

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