Fatal violence on the Gaza-Israel border

Soldiers shot at Palestinians during protests near the Gaza-Israel border and killed at least 17 people. In the run-up to the anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel and the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem European commentators fear the violence will escalate and call for moderation.

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Phileleftheros (CY) /

The powder keg could explode in May

To prevent the situation from spiralling further out of control other players like the Shiite Hezbollah must be kept out of the conflict, Phileleftheros warns:

“In view of the rivalry between Tel Aviv and Tehran, the menace of the organisation that operates in Lebanon but is supported by Iran is of decisive importance for Israel. Iran, for its part, makes no bones about its goal of boosting its presence in the region. The situation could easily get out of control. Palestinian mobilisation will reach a climax in May, when the anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel is celebrated. At the same time the US embassy in Jerusalem will be inaugurated. The situation could very easily spiral out of control as one spark in the Middle East can very easily ignite a fire.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Israel should exercise restraint

The Israeli government should seek de-escalation also in its own interest, the Financial Times advises:

“In these dangerous circumstances, the UN and EU should continue to press for an independent inquiry into Friday's killings - despite objections from Washington. That is the only way to sift fact from fiction in a region where myths are propagated on all sides. Israel, meanwhile, would be wise to exercise restraint. In the absence of credible international mediation, all the ingredients are there for another round of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. That would be in no one's interest, least of all Israel's.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Don't shoot!

Anyone who shoots at demonstrators is flirting with disaster, NRC Handelsblad warns:

“Of course Israel has the right to defend its borders. But it also has the duty to allow peaceful protest, and only in cases of absolute emergency may it use appropriate force. Shooting at demonstrators who do not pose an acute threat is unacceptable. And counterproductive. Only restraint on both sides can prevent a catastrophe.”