The Israel Defense Force expects a new wave of marches and demonstrations as the March of Return organizing committee in the Gaza Strip has urged residents to take to the streets on May 18, the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, under the slogan “Friday for the martyrs and the wounded.” The committee reportedly stated that the next rally after this week is set for June 5, the anniversary of the Six-Day War.
Israel’s violent crackdown on the protesters has drawn widespread criticism, with Kuwait urging a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the situation along the Gaza-Israel border. During the UNSC emergency session, the majority of envoys condemned the use of force by Israel, with many calling for an independent investigation into Monday’s violence.
Turkey has also called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Friday to discuss the Palestinian death toll. In light of the violence Ankara has recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Tel Aviv for consultations, having accused Israel of “state terror” and “genocide”; South Africa has also withdrawn its ambassador to Israel.
Russia has also expressed its concerns over the escalation in the Gaza Strip, urging all parties to exercise restraint and reaffirming its adherence to a two-state solution, while European nations, such as Germany and France, have condemned the violence by Israel, with French President Emmanuel Macron reiterating his opposition to the transfer of the US diplomatic premises to Jerusalem.
The United States, in turn, has blamed the deadly protests on Hamas, which was “intentionally and cynically” provoking a response – a stance, supported by the Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who declared that the leaders of Hamas were “a bunch of cannibals who also treat their own children as ammunition.”
Since March 30, Palestinians have been holding the Great March of Return near the Gaza Strip border to mark the 70th anniversary of Nakba, the Palestinian exodus after Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948.