By Middle East Affairs
The European Union condemned Saturday the killings of four Palestinians, including a teenager, during the “Great March of Return” protests along the Gaza-Israel border, according to Haaretz..
The EU spokesperson said a “full investigation is needed to understand what happened and why” Mohammed Ayoub, 15, as well three other Palestinians, died, and 156 more were wounded by Israeli live fire on Friday.
“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,” the statement said.
“The priority now must be to avoid any further escalation of violence and loss of life.”
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, however, came out with his own statement that blamed Hamas for the boy’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,” he said while adding “we already saw how they used UNRWA facilities as well as hospitals and mosques for terrorist purposes.”
Haaretz reported Palestinian medical sources as saying the boy was standing with a group about 100-150 meters away from the border when the IDF shot him.
Lieberman also praised the IDF 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.”
The “Great March of Return” demonstrations began March 30 in Gaza and are supposed to last for six weeks. Protesters have been burning tires to hinder Israeli troops’ sight, who are posted along the border. Groups of Palestinians have been testing their limits by moving closer to the border, knowing troops have the command to shoot at anyone who comes near. IDF soldiers have been told to shoot only at the lower body, unless the person looks to be a threat, such as holding an explosive. So far, at least 34 protesters have been shot and killed during the demonstrations.