The UK government said Monday that the killings of more than 50 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were “shocking” and destructive to peace efforts.
“The loss of life and the large number of injured Palestinians is tragic, and it is extremely worrying that the number of those killed continues to rise,” said Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt.
At least 55 Palestinians were martyred by Israeli army gunfire Monday and thousands more injured during anti-occupation rallies along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The death toll currently stands at 55 with over 2,770 injured, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement, adding at least one child had been killed during the demonstrations.
Burt said such violence is destructive to peace efforts.
“We have been clear that the UK supports the Palestinians’ right to protest, but these protests must be peaceful.
“It is deplorable that extremist elements may have been seeking to exploit these protests for their own violent purposes.”
Burt said the UK will not waver from its support for Israel’s right to defend its borders.
“But the large volume of live fire is extremely concerning. We continue to implore Israel to show greater restraint,” he said.
Burt reiterated that “the UK remains committed to a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital”.
Thousands of Palestinians have gathered on the Gaza Strip’s eastern border since early Monday morning to take part in protests aimed at commemorating the Nakba anniversary and to protest the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Since the border rallies began on March 30, more than 90 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed by cross-border Israeli gunfire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The rallies are to culminate on Tuesday, the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment — an event Palestinians refer to as the "Nakba" or "the Catastrophe".
Last week, the Israeli government said the ongoing border protests constituted a “state of war” in which international humanitarian law did not apply.
Burt also called on all sides to show “real leadership and courage” and urged them to “promote calm, refrain from inflaming tensions further and show with renewed urgency that the path to a two-state solution is through negotiation and peace”.