UN chief calls for probe into deadly clashes along Israel-Gaza border
30 March 2018
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres
has called for an independent and transparent investigation into clashes at the Gaza fence on Friday between
Palestinians participating in the ‘Great Return March’ and Israeli security forces which resulted in at least 15 deaths
and a large number of injured.
The UN chief’s call for a probe came as the Security Council was holding an urgent meeting into the deadly incidents.
Thousands of Palestinians marched to Gaza’s border with Israel earlier Friday to protest the long-standing blockade of
the enclave. According to a senior UN political official, 15 Palestinians were killed and more than 1,000 were injured,
including by teargas suffocation.
issued by a UN spokesman said the Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the reports of the deadly clashes and the he
appealed to those concerned to refrain from any act that could lead to further casualties, particularly measures that
could place civilians in harm’s way.
“This tragedy underlines the urgency of revitalizing the peace process aiming at creating the conditions for a return to
meaningful negotiations for a peaceful solution that will allow Palestinians and Israelis to live side by side
peacefully and in security,” the statement said, reaffirming the readiness of the United Nations to support the process.
Security Council Briefing
Meanwhile, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, the deputy UN political affairs chief, told the Security Council that around 30,000
people participated in and around the March at various locations in Gaza. Soon after the demonstrations started, the
situation turned deadly in several spots.
Some of the casualties were reportedly the result of live ammunition used by Israeli security forces during the March.
Other casualties followed armed clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, including the shelling of a
Hamas observation point.
Mr. Zerihoun, who is the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said reports indicate that most of the
demonstrators stayed well away from the border fence and were not violent.
“However, there are also reports that some protestors engaged in stone-throwing and violent behavior; some reportedly
carrying weapons,” he added.
He told the Council that according to reports from Israeli security forces, militants tried to get through the fence an
in attempt to plant explosives. Palestinians also reportedly sent a nine-year-old girl through the fence, but Israeli
forces were able to send her safely back.
Hamas leaders were reportedly also present at some of the gatherings.
Violence also broke out in the West Bank, where an estimated 900 Palestinians demonstrated, mostly in central West Bank
cities such as Ramallah and Hebron. According to the Red Crescent, 27 Palestinians were wounded in clashes near Nablus,
“Prior to the March, Israel had increased its forces along the border, deploying snipers, special units and drones, and
sent out warnings that it would act to prevent any breach of the border fence or violations of Israel’s sovereignty,”
Mr. Zerihoun noted.
Throughout the day, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, known as UNSCO, had been
in contact with both Palestinian and Israeli security forces and would continue to do so as more demonstrations are
expected throughout the next six weeks.
“There is fear the situation might deteriorate in the coming days,” said Mr. Zerihoun, telling the Council that the UN
would continue to stress that civilians should not be targeted and that all actors refrain from putting children at
He also called on Israel to uphold its responsibilities under international law, emphasizing that lethal force should
only be used as a last resort, with any resulting fatalities properly investigated by the authorities.
“The developments in Gaza today are again a painful reminder of the consequences of a missing peace between Israel and
Palestine, and the need to step up our efforts in support of a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” he concluded.