EU: Gaza Border Deaths Raise 'Serious Questions' About Israel's Use of Force

After nine killed, the EU calls on the IDF to clarify how Palestinian protesters targeted Israeli forces and attempted to breach border

Palestinians evacuate mortally wounded Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja during clashes with Israeli forces at the Israel-Gaza border on April 6, 2018.
\ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

The European Union released a statement Saturday in response to deadly clashes at the Gaza-Israel border Friday, saying they raise "serious questions about the proportionate use of force."

Nine Palestinians were killed by Israeli army gunfire after clashes resumed between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces along the Gaza border on Friday, Gaza's Health Ministry reported. The dead include photojournalist Yaser Murtaja, who was shot in the chest while wearing a vest marked "press."

"Yesterday, at least nine Palestinians, including a minor and a journalist wearing a 'press' jacket, were killed in Gaza and hundreds were injured by Israeli live fire," reads the EU statement. "This raises serious questions about the proportionate use of force which must be addressed."

It was the second consecutive Friday of mass protests known as the "March of Return," a series of demonstrations along the border leading up to Nakba Day.

The EU statement continued: "Reports by the Israeli Defense Forces about throwing stones and firebombs against their positions and attempts to cross the fence into Israel must also be clarified." It also called for restraint, access to medical supplies for the injured and for the Palestinian Authority to assume full responsibility in Gaza. 

In response to the death of Murtaja, the IDF has said that it "does not intend to shoot at journalists, and the circumstances in which journalists were allegedly injured by IDF gunfire are unknown and are being investigated."

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 last week, in which 15 were killed.