The Socialist International condemns the use of live fire by Israeli forces against protesters in Gaza, killing at least 60 people and injuring thousands. Monday's bloodshed bears terrible similarities to the events of 30 March this year, when several unarmed Palestinians were shot dead by the IDF during a major protest. Yesterday, Palestinians exercising their right to peaceful protest were once again targeted. Among the dead were a number of children under the age of 16. A loss of life on this scale has not been seen in Gaza since the end of the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict and the SI stands today in solidarity with the people of Palestine.
Those responsible for these killings must be held to account. Earlier this year, calls made by the UN Secretary-General, members of the international community and the Socialist International, for an independent inquiry into the killings were rejected by the Israeli government. Without an investigation, a clear message is being sent that Israeli forces are able to act with impunity, and it is therefore of paramount importance that an independent and transparent UN investigation into these tragic events is allowed to take place, to ensure that they are never repeated. It should not need reiterating that Israeli troops have an obligation to follow human rights law and ensure that lethal force is only used as a last resort.
The protests took place on the day of the opening of the new embassy of the United States in Jerusalem, a decision by the US government which has severely damaged the pursuit of peace in the Middle East by unilaterally pre-empting the final status negotiations on Jerusalem, which holds such significance for Jews, Muslims and Christians. This decision, taken without regard for the global consensus on the path to peace in the Middle East or the wider ramifications of a political act affecting the sensitivities of millions of people across cultures and religions, coupled with the veto by the US in the UN Security Council of an independent investigation into the killings in Gaza, hinders the road to peace.
In light of the volatile situation and the rapidly diminishing prospects for achieving a sustainable peace in the region, it is incumbent on all those within the international community that wish to see a resolution to seven decades of conflict to urgently intensify their diplomatic efforts to achieve a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace.