Former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has called for Ireland to expel the Israeli ambassador over the killing and wounding of Palestinian protesters.
A least 16 Palestinians were killed on Friday as thousands protested the right of return for refugees.
Mr Adams said: “There can be no justification or excuse by Israel for the calculated slaughter by Israeli military snipers of unarmed Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border with Israel.
“I visited Gaza and the Israeli town of Sderot in 2009. The conditions for the almost two million Palestinians surviving in the Gaza strip were appalling. It is an open prison, under siege by Israel, with the people of Gaza being denied the basic requirements of a decent life,” he said.
“In the nine years since then the Israeli stranglehold on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has increased. More Palestinian land and water rights have been stolen and significant numbers of new Israeli settlements have been constructed on Palestinian land in flagrant breach of international law.”
Mr Adams said he was urging the EU and UN to take a stand against Israeli violence, and urged the Irish government to expel the Israeli ambassador “as a first step in formally and officially recognising the state of Palestine”.
“The time for excuses is long over,” he added.
Palestinian health officials said 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire and more than 750 hit by live rounds, making it the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 cross-border war between Israel and Hamas.
During Friday’s confrontations, large crowds gathered near the border fence, with smaller groups of protesters rushing forward, throwing stones and burning tyres.
Israeli troops responded with live fire and rubber-coated steel pellets, while drones dropped tear gas from above. The army released video showing soldiers with rifles perched on high embankments overlooking the scene.
Brig Gen Ronen Manelis, the chief army spokesman, denied allegations of excessive use of force, saying those killed by Israeli troops were men between the ages of 18 and 30 who were involved in violence and belonged to militant factions.
On Saturday demonstrations are being staged in Derry, Belfast and Dublin in protest at the killing of Palestinian protesters by Israel.
Courtesy: Belfast Telegraph