Watertown daily times toll for gaza protests rises to 61 as baby dies from tear gas, with more protests expected gas bloating after eating

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Ahead of another day of protests, the death toll for those killed by Israeli forces at the Gaza boundary fence climbed to 61 on Tuesday after an infant died overnight from tear gas inhalation along with two others, according to local health officials.

Monday’s protests saw a level of bloodshed not seen in Gaza since a 2014 war with Israel and more could be ahead as residents bury the dead and prepare to mark the anniversary of Israel’s founding, known to Palestinians as the “Nakba,” or “Catastrophe.”

More than 2,700 people were injured, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, including 1,359 from live ammunition. The dead included at least seven children under the age of 18, among them a 15-year-old girl, the ministry said. The baby was eight months old and died after inhaling tear gas at the main protest area east of Gaza City, it added.

The U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said Tuesday that while Israel had a right to defend itself, lethal force should be a last resort and was not justified on people just approaching the fence. He condemned Monday’s “appalling deadly violence.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later attacked Turkish President Recep Erdogan on Twitter, saying that he “is one of the great supporters of Hamas, and there is no doubt that he understands terror and the massacres well, and I suggest that he not preach morality to us.”

“Every country must protect its borders,” wrote Netanyahu in a tweet. “Hamas is a terrorist organization that states its intention to destroy Israel and it sends thousands of people to breach the border fence to realize this goal. We will continue to act firmly to protect our sovereignty and our citizens.”

Israel’s former national security adviser and a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, Yaakov Amidror, said that the people around the world condemning the violence need to understand this isn’t like a protest in Europe.

Asked if Israel could use less lethal methods to contain the protesters, most of whom were unarmed, Amidror said that such a question was a good example of those who “can sit in an air-conditioned office, drinking coffee and give advice to the Israeli army that is facing off against many thousands of Palestinians.”

Tens of thousands of Palestinians had gathered on the edges of the fenced-off and blockaded territory from midmorning Monday. Many came to peacefully demonstrate, bringing their children and carrying flags. Food stalls sold snacks and music blared.

But the protests appeared to have a more violent edge than in previous weeks. Some young men brought knives and fence cutters. At a gathering point east of Gaza City, organizers urged protesters over loudspeakers to burst through the fence, telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions, even as they were reinforcing them.

“There was a Nakba. The Arabs of Palestine underwent expulsion. Tens of millions of people throughout the entire world, including Jews, underwent similar expulsion. But only the Palestinians adopted an ethos of rejectionism, victimhood, suffering and death,” he wrote. “They aren’t looking to improve things for themselves.”

Standing a few hundred meters from the fence, Nirma Attalah, 29, said her 22-year-old brother had been killed two weeks ago. “My brother was shot in the head in this place,” she said. She had come on Monday with her whole extended family. “We are here for Jerusalem, for Palestinian land,” she said.

The vast majority of demonstrators were unarmed, but near a parking area, a man pulled out an AK-47 and took aim at an Israeli drone dropping leaflets. He let off a stream of bullets into the air and brought it down. Later, more gunfire was heard as Palestinian factions argued over who would keep the downed drone, onlookers said.