UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) – US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Thursday accused Hamas of using children as “human shields” after dozens of Palestinians were killed during demonstrations in the Gaza Strip.
“Any party that is really keen on children in Gaza must insist that Hamas immediately stop using children as human shields in its conflict with Israel,” Hayley said at a UN Security Council meeting.
Israeli forces have killed 41 Palestinians, including two journalists, since protests began demanding the right of return on March 30 on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
Most of the Palestinians killed by Israeli troops during the ongoing demonstrations were shot by snipers on the border, while others were killed in artillery shelling or air strikes.
The Israeli army says its forces are firing in self-defense or to prevent demonstrators from trying to breach the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Hailey condemned the use of human shields throughout the Middle East in her address to the Security Council during a meeting to discuss the situation in the region and violence in Gaza.
“It is hard to think of even more cowardly action – even for a terrorist – than hiding behind innocent civilians,” she said.
The United Nations has called for an independent investigation into the violence in Gaza.
Israel has been involved in three wars in the Gaza Strip since 2008.
UN special envoy to the Middle East Nikolai Mladenov urged Israel to “minimize the use of live ammunition” and stressed that “lethal force should be used only as the last option.”
In return, he said Hamas and the leaders of the demonstrations should stay away from the border fence and protect the children.
Mladenov said at least four children were shot dead by Israeli soldiers.
The United States has twice blocked two Security Council statements expressing concern about the violence in Gaza.