Said Khatib | AFP | Getty Images
A Palestinian man uses a slingshot during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip east of Khan Yunis on May 14, 2018, as Palestinians protest over the inauguration of the US embassy following its controversial move to Jerusalem.
The United States blocked a United Nations (UN) Security Council statement drafted Monday that called for an independent investigation into the deaths of at least 58 Palestinians along the Israeli-Gaza border.
Monday’s violence followed several weeks of mass protests in the Israeli-blockaded territory of Gaza, which is governed by militant Islamist group Hamas. The unrest coincided with the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, a Donald Trump administration directive widely condemned by the international community.
“The Security Council expresses its outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest,” a draft of the statement read, which was seen and reported by AFP. “The Security Council calls for an independent and transparent investigation into these actions to ensure accountability.”
The U.S. has used its veto power 43 times against UN resolutions concerning Israel.
More than 2,400 people were reported injured as Israeli Defense Forces fired live bullets into crowds of protesters, the majority of whom were unarmed. At least eight children under the age of 16 were killed, according to Palestine’s envoy to the UN.
The draft statement also referred to the protests as “peaceful,” a clear point of contention between opposing sides in the conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday called the killings an act of self-defense, blaming the violence on Hamas, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization. The claim was echoed by the White House.