The Latest: Cypriots protest Israel’s actions in Gaza
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the Israel-Palestinian conflict (all times local):
More than 200 Palestinian and Cypriot left-wing protesters staged a peaceful march to the Israeli Embassy in the Cypriot capital to condemn what they say is Israel’s aggression against Palestinians and the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Riot police cordoned off all access to the Israeli embassy. Protesters gathered nearby holding Palestinian flags and placards reading “Jerusalem will always be the capital of Palestine.”
Speaking earlier, Communist-rooted AKEL party leader Andros Kyprianou denounced what he called Israel’s “murderous violence.” He said the U.S. Embassy move has undermined any chance for peace in the Middle East.
Nearly 60 Palestinian demonstrators were killed by Israeli fire during protests on the Gaza border this week.
Kyprianou also condemned the U.S. for offering “cover” to Israel’s actions. He criticized the European Union for not taking a strong stance against Israel and added that his party would break off relations with both the Israeli and U.S. embassies.
A senior Hamas official says the vast majority of protesters killed by Israeli fire during protests on the Gaza border this week were members of the Islamic militant group.
Salah Bardawil says 50 of the nearly 60 protesters killed by Israeli fire were members of the group that rules the Gaza Strip. He spoke in an interview Wednesday to Baladna TV, a private Palestinian news outlet.
The statement could bolster Israeli claims that Hamas has been using weekly mass border protests as cover to stage attacks.
Organizers say the wave of border protests is meant in large part to break a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt when Hamas seized power in 2007.
Since the Hamas-led protests began on March 30, more than 110 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,500 have been wounded by live fire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Palestinian officials say the vast majority of the casualties have been unarmed protesters.
The Palestinian envoy to Romania has been recalled in apparent protest for Romania’s support of the U.S. relocating its embassy to Jerusalem.
Romanian news agency Agerpres reported that the ambassador, Fuad Kokaly, would leave Romania Wednesday for “consultations” with Palestinian authorities.
Romania was one of four countries that recently blocked a European Union statement criticizing the U.S. for moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem on Monday. Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary also blocked the statement.
Kokaly recently criticized a Romanian government plan to relocate the country’s embassy to Jerusalem, saying it would endanger the national security of Romanian citizens and violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis, who is in charge of foreign policy, opposed the government plan.
The Israeli military says its tanks fired on a Hamas military post in the Gaza Strip after its forces came under fire from the territory.
The military says no troops were wounded in Wednesday’s exchange.
Israeli fire killed nearly 60 Palestinians on Monday during a protest along the border with Gaza.
Organizers say the wave of border protests is meant in large part to break a decade-old blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt and pressure Israel to ease its restrictions. Israel sees Hamas as being behind the demonstrations and accuses the group of using the protests as cover for staging attacks on Israel.
Over 100 people have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began March 30, drawing international accusations that Israel is using excessive force. Israel says it is rightfully defending its sovereign border.
The U.N.’s top human rights body will hold a special session to discuss “the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory” in the wake of a deadly crackdown on protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces.
The 47-member Human Rights Council says Friday’s session is being convened following a request by Palestine and the United Arab Emirates that was supported by 17 members — one more than required under council rules — including Cuba, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Israeli troops firing into Gaza killed nearly 60 Palestinians at mass border protests on Monday.
Israel and the United States have repeatedly accused the council of anti-Israel bias.
Israel’s ambassador in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, tweeted that convening the session “rewards Hamas’ terror strategy & its use of civilians as human shields to advance its terror activities” against Israelis.
The Hamas-led organizers of the Palestinian marches along the Gaza border have rejected a shipment of medical aid from Israel — despite widespread shortages of key supplies in the wake of deadly violence this week.
The Supreme Committee of the Great Return March said Wednesday the Palestinians would not accept medicine “from the murderers of our people.” It accused Israel of “trying to improve its black image.”
Nearly 60 people were killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli fire Monday in the deadliest day of cross-border violence since a 2014 war. Israel has accused Hamas of encouraging protesters to storm the border fence, and using the demonstrations as cover to carry out attacks.
The committee says protests will resume on Friday.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has recalled its ambassadors to four European countries to protest their participation in a party celebrating the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
The ministry said Wednesday that its ambassadors to Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria were being called home for consultations.
The Palestinians, who seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital, strongly objected to the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The European Union objected to the embassy move. But the four European countries criticized by the Palestinians broke with EU policy to attend the celebration.
The Palestinians said they consider the participation a “grave violation of international law.”
A senior Sunni cleric in Lebanon has called on all Muslims to wage jihad, or holy war, in support of the Palestinians after the U.S. decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, the former top Sunni religious authority, or mufti, in Lebanon, also said it is not sanctioned religiously for the Palestinians or any Arab or Muslim country to “surrender, reconcile or make peace deals or give up any inch” of historic Palestine.
Kabbani, who still has clout in the community, also said it is not acceptable for them to “recognize so-called Israel.”
Kabbani’s comments appear to be a jab at U.S. plans for a peace deal. They are reportedly supported by Saudi Arabia, which has used its control of holy sites in Mecca and Medina to brand itself the protector of Islam around the world, and which has special clout among Sunnis.
State media reports that Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has condemned the killing of Palestinians by Israel, saying “Palestinians are fighting for their homeland.”
Rouhani, according to a report from state TV’s news website, also said Iran will always support Palestinians’ rights.
He said: “We will always stand against aggressors and oppressors and believe that the ultimate victory belongs to the oppressed and Palestinians.”
Also on Wednesday, hundreds of hard-line Iranian students gathered in front of the former U.S. embassy to show their anger over the deaths of nearly 60 Palestinians along the Gaza border on Monday.
They also condemned the United States for its support of Israel and burned flags of both countries, shouting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry says it has summoned a top Turkish diplomat to be reprimanded for his country’s “harsh” treatment of Israel’s ambassador to Turkey.
The ministry says Umut Deniz, the Turkish charge d’affaires in Tel Aviv, was being summoned Wednesday because of the “inappropriate treatment” of Israeli ambassador Eitan Naeh, who was expelled from Ankara following the deadly violence in Gaza.
The ministry says Naeh was subjected to a severe security screening during his departure from the airport in Istanbul that was intentionally captured by Turkish media.
Turkey has also asked Israel’s consul general in Istanbul to leave as part of the expanding diplomatic spat between the countries.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry says the country has asked Israel’s consul general in Istanbul to temporarily leave amid an expanding diplomatic spat.
The ministry said Wednesday that Yosef Levi-Sfari was asked to leave “for some time.”
Turkey on Tuesday temporarily expelled Israel’s ambassador in Ankara after he was called into the ministry, where Turkey relayed its condemnation of Israel’s use of deadly force on Gaza protesters
Nearly 60 people were killed and 2,700 were wounded in a protest on the Gaza border Monday.
Ambassador Eitan Na’eh was seen in Istanbul’s main international airport en route to Tel Aviv.
Israel fired back Tuesday and asked the Turkish Consul General in Jerusalem to also temporarily leave. Turkey, strongly critical of the U.S. decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, had already recalled for consultations its ambassadors to Tel Aviv and Washington.
Guatemala has opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, becoming the second country to do so after the United States.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales dedicated the embassy Wednesday just two days after a high-powered American delegation also marked the transfer of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says it’s fitting since Guatemala also followed the U.S. to be the second country to recognize Israel 70 years ago.
“You were always among the first,” he said. “We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now.”
President Trump announced his decision on Jerusalem in December, triggering a joyous reaction from Netanyahu’s government. The move infuriated the Palestinians, who claim Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital.
Paraguay says it will also relocate its embassy.