Boris Johnson Expresses Concern to Netanyahu Over Gaza Killings, Says Israel Must Investigate

On Netanyahu's European tour, British, French and German leaders reiterate concern over Israel's shooting of protesters with live fire

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets U.K. Foreign Minister Boris Johnson in London, November 2017
קובי גדעון / לע"מ

LONDON – The British government is worried about the killing of protesters in Gaza and the worsening situation in the Strip, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in London Wednesday.

"We are very concerned by the deaths of over 120 Palestinians in recent weeks and the deteriorating situation in Gaza," Johnson said. 

He expressed "the need for Israel to carry out a transparent, independent inquiry into the loss of more than 120 Palestinian lives during the recent Gaza protests, as well as over 10,000 injuries."

Johnson condemned "incitement and rocket fire against Israel" and added that "the people of Israel and Gaza have the right to live safely in peace, without constant fear for their security."

The foreign secretary reiterated Britain's commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and described Israel's settlement construction in the West Bank as "a significant barrier to achieving this goal."

Earlier Wednesday, Netanyahu told May that Gaza's problems stemmed from Hamas' desire to destroy Israel. “We are not witnessing peaceful protests,” he said. “We are doing everything we can to both minimize casualties and at the same time protect Israeli lives.”

May told Netanyahu that Downing Street is concerned about the deaths of protesters in Gaza. “We have been concerned about the loss of Palestinian lives,” May told the prime minister.

On the issue of easing the situation in the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu said at a press conference Wednesday: “We must put the issue to Hamas and [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas], who are suffocating the Gaza Strip. I asked the European leaders: How you would stop an inflamed mob stampeding with terrorists who want to kill your people and abduct your soldiers? Tear gas does not work. What would you do? It’s different from a street demonstration in Chicago or London. This is a different kind of warfare. I told them about the burning fields and the fact that this is unbearable.”

Netanyahu also raised Iran's nuclear capacities with European leaders, saying that even if Europe does not abandon the nuclear deal, it will collapse anyway because of the economic sanctions to be imposed by the United States. According to political sources in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's entourage, European leaders agreed that Iranian forces should be removed from Syria and that they would ask the International Atomic Energy Agency to examine the Iranian nuclear archive documents obtained by the Mossad.