Russia Slams Israel’s Use of ‘Indiscriminate and Unacceptable’ Force Against Palestinians

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the Israeli army’s use of force against Palestinians at protests inside the Gaza Strip was unacceptable.

Palestinian demonstrations, which began on March 30, have been dubbed "The Great March of Return" of refugees and their descendants to ancestral homes now in Israel.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry criticised what it described as Israel’s "indiscriminate use of force against the civilian population." 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on April 9, 2018.YURI KADOBNOV/AFP

The condemnation comes hours after Russia and Syria blamed Israel for carrying out an attack on a Syrian air base near Homs on Monday which followed reports of a poison gas attack by President Bashar Assad’s forces on a rebel-held town.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters that Israel had not spoken to Moscow ahead of the airstrike even though Russian military advisers could have been present at the base, which he described as “a cause for concern for us.”Two U.S. officials, meanwhile, confirmed to NBC on Monday that they did know about the Israeli strike, though Israel has not confirmed the attack.

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Israel has been accused of recklessly employing force against unarmed protesters in the recent protests along the Gaza border fence. The Israeli army has launched a probe into the conduct of the troops during the border protests.

On Sunday, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, warned that she was watching the situation closely.

"Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence," Bensouda said, "is liable to prosecution before the Court, with full respect for the principle of complementarity," she finished in a statement.

>> Israel’s failure on the Gaza border could shift the crisis there from bad to worse | Analysis

Other countries criticized Israel’s conduct at the Gaza border as well. Following the protests, France, Germany, and the European Union Foreign Policy chief also issued statements calling for restraint and investigations into Israel’s conduct. 

Israeli officials have said Hamas is attempting to exploit the mass protests in order to launch attacks.

On Sunday, Syria and its main ally Russia blamed Israel for carrying out an attack on a Syrian air base near Homs on Monday, which killed 14 people. Syria’s state TV initially blamed the strike on the United States, but the Pentagon denied the U.S. carried out any strike in Syria.

Russia’s Interfax news agency cited the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that Israeli war planes had carried out the strikes from Lebanese air space. 

>> A Hectic Night: Israel Is Now Directly Confronting Iran in Syria | Analysis

The Lebanese army said in a statement Monday that four Israeli planes violated Lebanon’s airspace for about 10 minutes around 3:25 AM. The army did not say whether the warplanes carried out the airstrikes on Syria’s T-4 air base.

Iran’s Fars news agency reported that three Iranians were killed in the air strike, which it attributed to Israel.

The Russian ministry said that Syrian air defense systems had shot down five of eight missiles fired, while the other three landed in the western part of the base. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that the strike was "a dangerous development."