Gaza hospitals struggle to cope with high casualty toll
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Patients with gunshot wounds filled wards and hallways in Gaza’s under-equipped and overwhelmed main hospital Tuesday, with dozens still waiting in line for surgery a day after Israeli soldiers shot and killed 59 Palestinians and wounded hundreds in mass protests on the Gaza border.
The high casualty toll triggered a diplomatic backlash against Israel and new charges of excessive use of force against unarmed protesters. The U.N. Security Council began its session Tuesday with a moment of silence for the dead, and the U.N.’s special Mideast envoy said there was “no justification for the killing.”
Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador, and several European countries called for an international investigation.
Israel said it has the right to protect its border and nearby communities, accusing Gaza’s ruling militant group Hamas of carrying out several attacks under the guise of the protests. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, came to Israel’s defense, saying no member “would act with more restraint than Israel has.”
Monday’s border confrontation was the culmination of a weeks-long protest campaign to break a border blockade that Israel and Egypt imposed after a Hamas took over Gaza by force in 2007.
The protests were led by Hamas but fueled by the growing despair among Gaza’s 2 million people who face worsening poverty, unemployment, 22-hours-a-day power cuts and sweeping bans on travel and trade.
The protests were also driven by anger over the relocation Monday of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem.
Palestinians seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as a future capital.