Elizabeth Warren urges Israeli restraint toward Gaza protesters

Senior Democrat is ‘deeply concerned’ and calls on IDF to ‘respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest’

US Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, March 6, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
US Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, March 6, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

US Senator Elizabeth Warren called on the Israeli government to respect the rights of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border.

Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, made the call in a statement sent to The Intercept on Wednesday, the online news publication reported the following day.

“I am deeply concerned about the deaths and injuries in Gaza,” Warren said. “As additional protests are planned for the coming days, the Israel Defense Forces should exercise restraint and respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest.”

In addition to Warren, who has been cited as a possible presidential candidate in 2020, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, a Jewish lawmaker who ran in 2016 for the Democratic presidential nomination, late last month tweeted his criticism of Israel’s use of force during border demonstrations and called the killing of Gaza protesters “tragic.”

Three other members of Congress, all Democrats, have publicly voiced concerns about Israeli conduct toward protesters in Gaza: Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota, and Representative Barbara Lee of California, according to The Intercept.

The Intercept said that Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill contacted by the news magazine would not condemn the killings of protesters or the Israeli military’s attempts to disperse them. Some lawmakers said they did not know enough about the incidents and others put the onus back on the Palestinians, it reported.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry’s figures, Israeli forces have killed some 34 Palestinians along the border since March 30 amid mass protests that the Palestinians dub the “March of the Return.”

Israel says it opens fire when necessary to stop damage to the border fence, infiltrations and attempted attacks. It alleges that Hamas, whose leaders have said the demonstrations are ultimately aimed at erasing the border and liberating Palestine, is seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.

Last Friday, during the second week of a series of events set to culminate on May 15, about 20,000 Palestinians demonstrated along the Gaza border in what Israel has described as a riot orchestrated by Hamas, and what Palestinians say was supposed to be a peaceful protest.

Israel’s army spokesman Ronen Manelis specified that evening that eight explosive devices and numerous petrol bombs were thrown during the day, and that the IDF faced several attempts “to cut through the fence…. There were attempts to carry out acts of terrorism … using the smoke [from burning tires] for cover,” Manelis said.

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