Uneasy Calm Falls Over Gaza After Israel Kills Scores in Protests

The White House staunchly defended Israel’s actions, while several nations condemned them, but much of the official reaction around the world was more muted, voicing horror at the bloodshed but not assigning blame.

“I am profoundly alarmed and concerned by the sharp escalation of violence and the number of Palestinians killed and injured in the Gaza protests,” António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is imperative that everyone shows the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life.”

South Africa and Turkey recalled their ambassadors to Israel in protest, and Turkey also withdrew its ambassador to the United States.

Kuwait called a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to discuss the Gaza violence, which it blamed on Israel. The government of Saudi Arabia, whose icy relations with Israel have thawed in recent years, issued “strong condemnation and denunciation of the deadly targeting of unarmed Palestinians by the Israeli Forces of Occupation,” according to the official news agency S.P.A.

Among major Western powers, there was much criticism of the relocation of the American Embassy, but only President Emmanuel Macron of France directly assailed Israel’s actions.

But the Trump administration echoed the Israeli stance, that the organizers of the protests were to blame for the deaths and injuries, not Israel. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,” Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, told reporters on Monday.

Reporting was contributed by Isabel Kershner from Nahal Oz, Israel; Declan Walsh from Gaza City; Nick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva; David M. Halbfinger from Jerusalem; Rami Nazzal from Ramallah, West Bank; and Richard Pérez-Peña from London.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-protests.html

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