France Urges Israel After Gaza Border Deaths to 'Show Restraint'

France reminds Israel of its 'duty to protect civilians' following statements by the EU and Germany on the Israel-Gaza border clashes that killed at least 15 Palestinians

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during the Artificial Intelligence for Humanity event in Paris, March 29, 2018.
Etienne Laurent/AP

France issued a statement on Sunday expressing concern in response to last Friday's protests along the Israel-Gaza border that killed at least 15 Palestinians.

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France reminded Israeli authorities "of their duty to protect civilians" and urged them to "show the greatest restraint."

"France also highlights the Palestinians' right to peacefully demonstrate," the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said in a statement.

Female Palestinian medic Razan Al-Najar reacts to tear gas as she works at the scene of clashes at Israel-Gaza border, in the southern Gaza Strip, April 1, 2018.
IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS

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The German Federal Foreign Office expressed "extreme concern" in a statement released Saturday following the clashes that took place along 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.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has called for an independent and transparent investigation into the Israeli military's use of live fire during the mass Gaza rallies. 

"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 last Saturday.

"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," Mogherini added.

Thousands marched in Paris last week against anti-Semitism in memory of the slain Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll, whose violent murder has galvanized the Jewish community in face of fears of growing anti-Semitism in the country.

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The incident underscores the enduring tension and alarm among France's 400,000-strong Jewish community over anti-Semitism, which Interior Minister Gerard Collomb on Tuesday described as a cancer that must not be allowed to eat away at the nation. 

Reuters contributed to this report.