UNITED NATIONS / GAZA CITY, Palestine: The United States vetoed Friday an Arab-backed U.N. draft resolution calling for protection measures for the Palestinians that won backing from 10 countries at the Security Council. China, France and Russia were among the countries that voted in favor of the draft put forward by Kuwait on behalf of Arab countries. Four countries abstained. A draft resolution requires nine votes to be adopted in the 15-member council and no veto from the five permanent members – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
The U.S., meanwhile, brought its own text to the council: A proposal that would condemn Hamas for its role in the escalation of violence in Gaza in the last two months.
The council met for a closed-door discussion before what was expected to be an open meeting and vote Friday, after weeks of urgent discussions about the violence.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley vowed Thursday to veto Kuwait’s resolution on protecting Palestinians. She called it “grossly one-sided and morally bankrupt” for demanding that the Israeli military halt “the use of any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” while not mentioning Hamas.
In Gaza meanwhile, the Israeli military killed a Palestinian nurse as she tried to help a wounded protester at the Gaza border, according to health officials and a witness. Israel said protesters had attacked its troops with gunfire and a grenade.
Razan al-Najar’s death brought to 123 the number of Palestinians killed in weekly demonstrations launched on March 30 in the Gaza Strip, an enclave controlled by the Hamas movement and long subject to grinding Israeli and Egyptian embargoes.
Najar, a 21-year-old volunteer medic, was shot as she ran toward the fortified border fence, east of the south Gaza city of Khan Younis, in a bid to reach a casualty, a witness said.
Wearing a white uniform, “she raised her hands high in a clear way, but Israeli soldiers fired and she was hit in the chest,” the witness, who requested anonymity, told Reuters.
An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment on Najar’s killing.
Israeli officers have previously said that army snipers target only people posing a threat, but that the bullets can sometimes run through them or ricochet, hitting bystanders.
Gazan medical officials said at least 100 Palestinians were wounded by army gunfire during Friday’s mass demonstrations.
In a separate statement, the Israeli military said its troops had acted to disperse “thousands of rioters” at five locations.
It said that “an IDF [Israel Defense Forces] vehicle was fired upon and a suspect was identified crossing the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip and planting a grenade which exploded as he returned to the strip.”
There have been no Israeli casualties during the border confrontations, but Israel has reported extensive damage to farmland from fire bomb-bearing kites flown over from Gaza.
The surge in Israeli attacks at the border crescendoed this week to the most intensive shelling exchanges between Israel and Hamas and some other Palestinian armed factions since 2014.
But the violence, which caused no fatalities, was reined in with Egyptian cease-fire mediation.
In the protests, billed as the “Great March of Return,” Palestinians have been calling for the right to return to lands lost to Israel during the 1948 War of its creation.
At her house in Khan Younis, Najar’s mother collapsed in grief as she was handed her daughter’s blood-stained uniform.
A statement from Gaza’s Health Ministry mourned Najar as a “martyr.” When interviewed by Reuters earlier in April, she said she would see the border protests through until their end.
“I am returning and not retreating,” Najar’s last Facebook post said. “Hit me with your bullets. I am not afraid.”