The head of the Arab League said Wednesday that his organization wants the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate the deaths last week of 18 Palestinians during protests near Gaza’s border with Israel.
During an official visit to Lisbon, Portugal Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that the Arab League also supports UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call for an independent investigation of the fatal shootings by Israeli forces.
Aboul Gheit asserted that Palestinians were demanding their rights “and they will not be forgotten or diminished.”
He added he hoped the killings would stop “because the demonstrations will continue at least until May 15” — when Israel will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of its establishment, which the Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or catastrophe.
On Friday, over 30,000 Palestinians demonstrated along the Gaza border, in what Israel describes as a riot orchestrated by the Hamas terrorist group, which rules Gaza, and what Palestinians say was supposed to be a peaceful protest.
There were discrepancies in Palestinian reports on the Gaza death toll from Friday. While Hamas claimed Monday that 18 had died, the official news agency of the Palestinian Authority had the number at 16. Israel has no official death toll figures. Over 1,000 were reported injured.
IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said on Saturday that all those killed were engaged in violence. Manelis said on Friday evening that the army had faced “a violent, terrorist demonstration at six points” along the fence. He said the IDF used “pinpoint fire” wherever there were attempts to breach or damage the security fence.
The IDF on Saturday named and detailed 10 of the dead as members of terror groups including Hamas. (Hamas had earlier acknowledged five of them were its members.) Islamic Jihad later claimed an 11th.
Palestinians have pointed to a handful of filmed instances from the demonstration which appeared to show protesters being shot at while posing no threat to IDF troops. The army, on the other hand, has claimed Hamas fakes and fabricates such videos.