EU calls on Israel, Palestine to show restraint to avoid new victims


…As 87 die, 136 injure in storms across India***

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Monday called on Israel and Palestine to show restraint in order to avoid new victims in the ongoing clashes between Israeli servicemen and Palestinian protesters on the Gaza Strip border.

Israeli servicemen killed no fewer than 43 Palestinians and injured over 1,600 on the border with the Gaza Strip during the ongoing protests known as the Great March of Return and riots against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, local media reported.

“Dozens of Palestinians, including children, have been killed and hundreds injured from Israeli fire today, during ongoing mass protests near the Gaza fence.

“We expect all to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life.

“Israel must respect the right to peaceful protest and the principle of proportionality in the use of force.

“Hamas and those leading the demonstrations in Gaza must ensure that they remain strictly non-violent and must not exploit them for other means,’’ Mogherini said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. officially opened its embassy in Jerusalem amid escalation of protests against the move.

Mogherini noted that any further escalation of the situation would cause “further unspeakable sufferings to both peoples, and will make the perspective of peace and security even more remote.”

“The EU remains firmly committed to continue working with both parties and with its partners in the international community.

“Towards a resumption of meaningful negotiations aimed at a two-state solution, based on the June 4,1967 lines and with Jerusalem as capital of both,’’ Mogherini added.

In December, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and instructed the U.S. State Department to launch the process of moving the U.S. Embassy, located in Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem.

The move prompted criticism from a number of states, particularly Palestine and countries in the Middle East, and triggered a wave of protests in the region.

Since March 30, Palestinians have been holding the so-called Great March of Return, near the Gaza Strip border.

The Palestinians intend to go on with the march until Tuesday, when they will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian exodus that occurred as a result of Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 – the so-called Nakba Day.

In the meantime, at least 87 people were killed and 136 others injured across India after storms accompanied by gusty winds and lightning hit many states, officials said on Monday.

The worst affected Uttar Pradesh reported 52 deaths.

“A total of 52 people were killed in Uttar Pradesh, 12 in West Bengal, 13 in Andhra Pradesh, five in Bihar, three in Telangana and two in the national capital – New Delhi,’’ India’s state-run broadcaster All India Radio said.

Local news agency quoting officials said 136 people were injured in the affected states.

The storms hit the states on Sunday, wreaking havoc by uprooting trees, electricity poles and transformers.

Indian Meteorological Department officials said squall and dust storm with a wind speed of up to 109 km/h hit the capital city and its outskirts.

The storms caused disruption in flight, rail and metro operations in the capital city, affecting commuters.

Reports from Uttar Pradesh said nearly 100 houses were gutted in a fire, which broke out due to lightning in Sambhal.

Several areas in the affected states faced power outages as electricity lines were snapped.

Meteorology officials said thunderstorms are expected across north-west India over the next 48 to 72 hours, as several weather phenomena, including western disturbances, converge.

Earlier, 18 people were killed in the thunderstorm and rain-related incidents in Uttar Pradesh.

Earlier this month at least 124 people were killed and more than 300 others injured in several states due to dust storms, thunderstorms and lightning.