By Viola Fahmy
Permanent representatives of the Cairo-based Arab League held an emergency session on Tuesday to discuss recent Israeli violence on the Gaza Strip’s border that has left at least 17 Palestinians dead.
Addressing the meeting, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul-Gheit called on the UN Security Council to form an international commission to investigate last week’s deaths.
"Going to the UN General Assembly to provide protection to the Palestinian people and form an investigation commission will be an option if the Security Council continues to fail,” he said.
For his part, assistant Arab League secretary-general Saeed Abu Ali called for holding Israel “entirely responsible” for the deaths and injuries on Gaza border.
“We meet today as the Israeli occupation authorities… use weapons against unarmed people, which has led to the death of 17 and the injury of some 1,500 others,” he said in opening remarks.
Last Friday, tens of thousands of Palestinian protesters converged on the Gaza Strip’s roughly 45-kilometer-long (28-mile) eastern border with Israel to demand their right to return to their ancestral homes in historical Palestine.
The rallies marked the beginning of a planned six-week demonstration that will culminate on May 15, which will mark the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment -- an event Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe”.
In the run-up to the mass demonstration last week, Israel had deployed thousands of troops along the border, threatening to use live ammunition against anyone who threatened Israel’s “security infrastructure”.
Demonstrators demand that Palestinian refugees be granted the “right of return” to their towns and villages in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
Speaking at Tuesday’s Arab League session, Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Diab al-Louh accused the U.S. of “encouraging” Israel to continue committing “heinous crimes” against defenseless Palestinians.
“The U.S. administration encourages Israel’s extremist right-wing government to continue committing heinous crimes against the Palestinian people,” al-Louh said.
He called on the UN Security Council and international rights groups to establish a special commission of inquiry to look into the recent Israeli violence on Gaza’s border.
Israel, al-Louh went on to point out, “has occupied more than 60 percent of the West Bank, builds illegal settlements [on occupied Arab land] and continues to impose a crippling blockade on Gaza”.
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