British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday urged all sides to show restraint after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians during clashes along the Gaza border.
“Such violence is destructive to peace efforts and we call on all sides to show restraint,” she said, speaking alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following talks at her Downing Street office.
The deaths came during protests Monday as the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. At least 2,400 more were wounded in the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.
Israel has blamed Hamas for the deadly violence, saying the terror group encouraged and led the protests, which included attacks on Israeli troops and attempts to breach the border fence. The IDF had said Sunday that Hamas planned to send armed terrorists through any breach in the fence to “massacre” Israelis.
The Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups acknowledged Tuesday that 13 operatives from the organizations were among the 60 that Hamas reported killed by IDF fire at the Gaza fence protests. Israel said at least 24 of the dead were members of terror groups.
“There is an urgent need to establish the facts of what happened yesterday through an independent and transparent investigation, including why such a volume of live fire was used and what role Hamas played in events,” May said.
The United States on Monday blocked the adoption of a UN Security Council statement that would have called for an independent probe.
“Palestinians have the right to protest, but these protests must be peaceful. We are concerned that extremist elements are seeking to hijack legitimate protests to further their own objectives,” May said.
“While we do not question the right of Israel to defend its borders, the use of live fire and the resulting loss of life is deeply troubling. We urge Israel to show restraint.”
The comments alongside the Turkish leader came as Jerusalem and Ankara were engaged in a diplomatic tussle over the Gaza deaths, with both sides expelling each others’ envoys and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu entering into a war of words with Erdogan.
Earlier on Tuesday, Alistair Burt, the Foreign Office minister responsible for Middle East affairs, reiterated Britain’s commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict, and said it did not agree with the US decision to move its embassy.