Maldives condemns attack on Palestinian protesters

Maldives government on Saturday condemning the attacks by Israel on Palestinian protesters near Gaza border and conveyed sympathy to the Government and people of the State of Palestine.

Thousands of Palestinians had marched to the border at the start of a six-week protest, dubbed the Great March of Return. The protest comes ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel and the exodus of many Arabs - which Palestinians refer to as the "Nakba" (Catastrophe).

Sixteen Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers at the Gaza border.

It was the single deadliest day in the Israel-Palestine conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.

Maldives foreign minister Dr Mohamed Asim in a message to his Palestinian counterpart a message Dr Riad Maliki insisted that the Maldives government condemns this "barbaric act" in the strongest terms.

“I am deeply saddened to hear the news of the attacks by Israel on Palestinian protesters near Gaza border on 30th March 2018 which caused the loss of many innocent lives and injuring many more," the message read.

Dr Asim reiterated that the Maldives will work closely with Palestine and the international community to advocate the cause of Palestine, and shall continue to keep reminding the international community of their obligation to promote and protect the full enjoyment of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an independent inquiry into Friday's violence.

UN deputy political affairs chief Taye-Brook Zerihoun told the council that "Israel must uphold its responsibilities under international human rights and humanitarian law".

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, blamed the bloodshed on Hamas.

Later Gen Manelis said Friday's events were "not a protest demonstration" but "organised terrorist activity" by Hamas.

"If it continues, we shall have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip against terrorist targets which we understand to be behind these events," he said according to AFP news agency.

On Saturday Palestinians observed a day of national mourning for those killed and thousands of people attended funerals. Palestinians also called a general strike.

A few hundred protesters returned to a tent city put up near the border in preparation for the demonstration to resume, said AFP.

At least 15 people were wounded in renewed clashes along the Gaza border on Saturday, said Gazan health authorities.