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Tutu ‘heartbroken & distressed’ over deadly Gaza attack

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says he’s praying for God to open the eyes and hearts of all citizens of the holy land.

FILE: Tear gas is fired at protestors during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel, east of Gaza City on 14 May 2018, following the controversial move to Jerusalem of the United States embassy. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG/RAMALLAH - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has added his voice to the growing condemnation of the deadly shootings on the Gaza border, saying it’s left him heartbroken and deeply distressed.

In a statement, the Archbishop says he’s praying for God to open the eyes and hearts of all citizens of the holy land.

At least 60 protesters were killed by Israeli forces, while more than 2,000 others were wounded. The confrontation coincided with the controversial opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

Israel has said it’s defending its territories, while Palestinian leaders have called Monday’s violence a massacre.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency meeting over the growing death toll in clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian protesters.

It comes as new violence erupts across the West Bank and Gaza.

Turkey has expelled the Israeli ambassador, while South Africa has withdrawn its ambassador for consultation.

The situation in northern Ramallah is extremely tense, a group of young men can be seen pushing a huge trash can forward to create a barrier between them and Israeli soldiers.

There’s a drone flying overhead spraying teargas, and every so often another barrage hits the area and the crowd surges backwards. Ambulances have been ferrying the injured away. So far, at least 100 Palestinians have been hurt, according to the Red Crescent society.

It comes as they mark Nakba day - the day they call a catastrophe - when they were forced from their homes during Israel’s independence in 1948.

DOWNGRADE SOUTH AFRICA’S EMBASSY IN ISRAEL

The main hospital in Gaza is battling to cope with the hundreds of Palestinians wounded during the violence on the border.

International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says the government is still considering the African National Congress’ instruction to downgrade South Africa’s embassy in Israel to a liaison office.

“We’re working on it and when we’ve come to finality we’ll be able to report back.”

Throughout the last seven weeks, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been protesting as part of a weeks-long movement calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the areas they were forcibly expelled from in 1948.

South Africa’s decision to recall its ambassador to Israel is being welcomed, with the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation saying it will continue to raise its objection to the occupation, colonialism and apartheid that Palestinians have been subjected to.

VIOLENCE CONTINUES

The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency session in New York to discuss the violence along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, with confirmation that another Palestinian has been shot dead on Tuesday afternoon.

The meeting began with a minute of silence for the 60 Palestinians who were killed during Monday’s protests, that coincided with the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

Speaking before the meeting, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, accused Hamas of attempting to breach the border fence by organising violent protests along the Israel-Gaza border and defended Israel’s right to security.

It comes as new violence erupts across the West Bank and Gaza.

Violent clashes continue between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers at several flashpoints across the West Bank, including in the cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, Kalandia and Nablus.

Along the Israel-Gaza border tyres continue to be burnt.

According to reports, a protester has been killed on Tuesday afternoon, while more than 100 have been injured.

It comes against the backdrop of funerals taking place for more than 60 Palestinians killed on Monday.

Cairo is reportedly allowing the transfer of some of the injured due to the overcrowding in Gaza hospitals.

Turkey has expelled the Israeli ambassador, while both Turkey and South Africa have recalled their ambassador from Tel Aviv with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, hundreds of people have taken part in a march in Cape Town in support of a free Palestine. Civil rights organisations have ramped up calls for the government to shut down the Israeli Embassy in South Africa.

Several organisations including the SACP, Palestine Solidarity Alliance and Numsa held a picket outside the US Consulate in Sandton, where they’ve handed over a memorandum under the banner “Free Palestine”.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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