EU Calls for a 'Full Investigation' Over Palestinian Deaths in Fourth Friday of Gaza Protests

Rebutting criticism of Israel over the shooting of a 15-year-old Palestinian teenager, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said all responsibility rests with Hamas

Friends of 15-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Ibrahim Ayoub, who was shot and killed by Israeli security forces during clashes along the Israel-Gaza border, hold up a poster of his portrait by his grave in a cemetery in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza strip on April 21, 2018.
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

The European Union condemned the killings of four Palestinians, including a 15-year-old Palestinian, during the fourth consecutive week of the "March of Return," in a statement released Saturday.

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The EU spokesperson said that a "full investigation is needed to understand what happened and why" in response to the killing of Mohammed Ayoub, 15, the killings of three other Palestinians, and the 156 wounded by Israeli live fire on Friday.

Mohammed Ayoub, 15, who was killed during protests near the Gaza border.

"As we once again mourn the loss of lives, the EU calls on the Israel Defense Forces to refrain from using lethal force against unarmed protesters. As stated repeatedly, the priority now must be to avoid any further escalation of violence and loss of life," the statement said.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, however, slammed all criticism saying that Hamas was responsible for the teen's death.

“These cowardly [Hamas] leaders use women and children as human shields so that they can continue digging tunnels and carry out terrorist attacks against Israel,’ Lieberman said in a statement, adding “we already saw how they used UNRWA facilities as well as hospitals and mosques for terrorist purposes.”

Palestinian medical sources said the teenager was standing with a group around 100-150 meters from the border when he was shot.

The protests are part of a month-and-a-half-long protest organized by Hamas near the Gaza border. This past week, the march was dedicated to the so-called martyrs that have died in previous weeks. Last week, the march was centered around burning Israeli flags.

Lieberman defended the conduct of the Israeli after the Palestinian death toll climbed once again on Friday: “Yesterday the Israel Defense Forces showed they are the most moral army in the world, they did everything they could to avoid collateral damage. To Gazans I say: don’t go to the border, this is the secret for a long life.”

A Twitter confrontation erupted on Friday between the UN's Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov and the former spokesman for the Israeli military Peter Lerner over the killing of Mohammed Ayoub, the 15 year old Palestinian teenager. After a heated exhange, Mladenov tweeted "Here's another idea. Stop shooting children."