UN Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov clashed with a former Israeli army spokesman on Twitter after the UN official slammed Israel’s violent response to protests in Gaza on Friday which left four Palestinians dead.
Mladenov angrily tweeted that Israel’s actions on the Gaza border were “outrageous”, particularly calling for children to be protected from the ensuing violence, a reference to 14-year-old Mohammad Ayoub, who was shot despite being some 150 metres away from the border.
? It is OUTRAGEOUS to shoot at children! How does the killing of a child in #Gaza today help #peace? It doesn’t! It fuels anger and breeds more killing. #Children must be protected from #violence, not exposed to it, not killed! This tragic incident must be investigated.
— Nickolay E. MLADENOV (@nmladenov) April 20, 2018
Despite widespread international condemnation of Israel’s violent response, yesterday Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman reiterated his “absolute support” for the soldiers shooting at unarmed protesters.
“I was there myself and saw how the soldiers were operating. The way our soldiers function inspires respect,” the defence minister told reporters, adding that Israeli forces had done nothing wrong.
Some 37 Gazans have been killed by Israeli forces in the past month, with more than 5,000 others wounded, at least 500 of whom were children. It is estimated that over a third of the injuries were caused by live fire resulting in injuries of such severity that Gaza doctors say they have not seen Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.
The global NGO Doctors Without Borders said last week that its medical teams were dealing “with devastating injuries of an unusual severity, which are extremely complex to treat. The injuries sustained by patients will leave most with serious, long-term physical disabilities.”
A doctor in Gaza’s Al-Shifaa Hospital echoed the organisation’s comments: “The bullets used are causing injuries local medics say they have not seen since 2014. The entrance wound is small. The exit wound is devastating, causing gross comminution of bone and destruction of soft tissue.”
Despite the Gaza Ministry of Health establishing five field clinics close to the border to stabilise patients before transferring them to hospitals, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concern at the lack of available medication in the besieged enclave, inhibiting the ability to deliver adequate care.
The WHO also criticised Israel for harming medical personnel, stating that 48 medical staffers have been injured by Israeli fire while trying to evacuate the wounded. At least 19 ambulances are also believed to have been targeted by sniper fire or tear gas grenades.
Prior to last week’s protests, UN human rights experts condemned “the continued use of firearms, including live ammunition” by Israeli forces “against mostly unarmed Palestinian protesters and observers”, calling on Israel to uphold its responsibilities under international law.