Egypt has condemned the “excessive use of power” by Israeli security forces, as deadly clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police and settlers continues in the volatile Gaza Strip.
The condemnation took place Friday evening as violence escalated. The Palestinian death toll increased, and the number of arrests made by Israeli forces reached 650.
The Prisoners Affairs unit of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) affirmed that most of the arrested individuals were from Jerusalem, and were detained during clashes or in dawn raids.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that Israeli occupation forces used live gun fire against Palestinians. The statement said Israel should “offer protection for the Palestinian people and cease all repeated violations”, as the attacks will squander chances to continue negotiations between the two sides.
Clashes have been ongoing between Palestinians and Israelis, leading to Israel’s controversial ban of Palestinians from entering Jerusalem. Casualties among Palestinian civilians and Israeli settlers have been increasing.
Israeli police responded to the clashes excessively by using live gunfire to disperse protesters. Similar incidents took place prior to the previous two Palestinian intifadas.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon told local Israeli media Friday that the Hamas movement is responsible for the violence and the death of six Palestinian men during clashes, accusing Hamas of allowing “rioters” to approach restricted areas.
The six men died Friday when protesters belonging to Hamas and other Islamist movements demonstrated to “defend Al-Aqsa” and stand in solidarity with protesters in the Western Bank, and clashed with Israeli police. Ya’alon added that Hamas should stop escalating the conflict.
Commenting on the incident, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the US government is aware of reports on “excessive usage of power by Israeli forces against Palestinians”. He also condemned all kinds of violence against Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Kerry urged the two sides to restore stability and to avoid extreme rhetoric and further escalation.
Despite occasionally playing up aggressive rhetoric against the other, Egypt and Israel have enjoyed a cooperative relationship since the 1978 Camp David Peace Treaty that paved way for the billions of dollars Egypt is receiving in ongoing aid from the United States.
The Israeli embassy in Cairo was reopened last week after four years of closure. The embassy had closed its doors in September 2011, when protesters stormed into it.