European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called on Saturday for an independent and transparent investigation into the Israeli military's use of live fire during mass rallies along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip a day earlier.
At least 15 Palestinians were killed in clashes on Friday as 30,000 Gazans participated in the "March of Return," a series of mass protests slated to continue for weeks.
"While Israel has the right to protect its borders, the use of force must be proportionate at all times," Mogherini said in a statement released in response to Friday's events.
"The EU reiterates its calls for an end to the closure of Gaza and a full opening of the crossing points, while addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns. The EU further urges the Palestinian sides to increase their efforts to enable the Palestinian authority to exert its full control over Gaza," the statement said.
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Calling on both sides to show restraint and avoid escalation, Mogherini said Friday's events show the need for "a political solution for Gaza and an urgent resumption of peace talks towards a two-state solution."
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Meanwhile, the German Federal Foreign Office expressed "extreme concern" about the clashes that took place on the border. "Exercising the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest must not be exploited and used to violate Israel's legitimate security interests on the border to the Palestinian territories," the statement said.
Mogherini's words echoed those of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who called on Friday night for an independent and transparent probe into the deaths and injuries along the Israel-Gaza border.
The UN Security Council convened Friday night to discuss the situation on the border, which, according to a senior UN official, "might deteriorate in the coming days." The official urged that civilians, particularly children, not be targeted.
The council convened despite requests by the United States and Israel to postpone deliberations for Saturday, due to the Jewish holiday of Passover. No Israeli envoy was present during disussions.
Clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli army resumed Saturday as Gazans protested throughout the Strip. Meanwhile, thousands attended the funerals of the 15 Palestinians killed on Friday.