WORLD NEWS
15/05/2018 15:01 SAST | Updated 15/05/2018 17:39 SAST

Palestinian Family Says 8-Month-Old Died From Israeli Tear Gas In Gaza Protest Crackdown (GRAPHIC)

Sixty people were killed during Monday's clashes, which took place during the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters
A relative carries the body of 8-month-old Palestinian infant Laila al-Ghandour, who died after inhaling tear gas during a protest against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, during her funeral in Gaza City, May 15, 2018.

Warning: This story contains images that may be disturbing to some readers.

Monday’s clashes along the Israel-Gaza border were the deadliest the region has experienced in years, cutting short the lives of dozens of Palestinians including an 8-month-old child, Gaza’s Ministry of Health announced.

Hundreds gathered Tuesday to mourn Laila al-Ghandour, an infant whose family says she died after inhaling toxic fumes from the tear gas used on Palestinian protesters Monday east of Gaza City.

“Let her stay with me, it is too early for her to go,” Laila’s mother cried as she held the girl’s body, Reuters reported. Heyam Omar, Laila’s grandmother, said the family had been inside one of the protest encampments on Monday.

“When we got back home, the baby stopped crying and I thought she was asleep,” Omar said, according to Reuters. “I took her to the children’s hospital and the doctor told me she was martyred.”

At least one source disputes the family’s version of events. According to Haaretz, a doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Laila had a pre-existing medical condition and that he did not believe she died due to tear gas.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters
Mourners bury Laila.

Of the 60 victims in Monday’s protests, eight were children, the ministry said. More than 2,400 people have been reported wounded as of Tuesday morning.

Doctors Without Borders condemned the violence as “unacceptable and inhuman” in a statement, saying it hasn’t seen bloodshed at this level in years.

“It is unbearable to witness such a massive number of unarmed people being shot in such a short time,” the group said. “In one of the hospitals where we are working, the chaotic situation is comparable to what we observed after the bombings of the 2014 war, with a colossal influx of injured people in a few hours, completely overwhelming the medical staff.”

The United Nations Human Rights office also weighed in:

Monday’s protests took place as the relocation of the U.S. embassy was being formalized a few miles away in Jerusalem. As Israeli forces fired live ammunition and tear gas on thousands of protesters, U.S. and Israeli officials celebrated the major foreign policy move with barely any mention of the violence.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner was the only person to reference the protests, blaming the violence on the protesters. 

“Those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution,” he said Monday.

White House spokesman Raj Shah followed up on Kushner’s remarks, placing responsibility for Monday’s deaths with Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza and that the U.S. considers a terrorist group.

“Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response,” Shah said, suggesting the clashes were “a gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt” orchestrated by Hamas’ leaders.

The protests represent the culmination of six weeks of deadly demonstrations along the Gaza border as Palestinians demand a right of return to their land. The campaign is expected to end Tuesday, on the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians call the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced during the 1948 war.

This story has been updated to reflect Haaretz’s report that a doctor believes Laila died because of a pre-existing condition.

  • Mohamad Torokman / Reuters
    A Palestinian demonstrator holds a sling during a protest marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank May 15, 2018. 
  • Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters
    Palestinian demonstrators run for cover from Israeli fire and tear gas.
  • Spencer Platt via Getty Images
    A Palestinian woman documents the situation at the border fence with Israel in Gaza City, Gaza. 
  • Spencer Platt via Getty Images
    A child overcome by tear gas receives medical help. 
  • Mohammed Salem / Reuters
    A Palestinian demonstrator with a slingshot looks on during the protests. 
  • Spencer Platt via Getty Images
    A wounded Palestinian protestor stands at the border fence. 
  • Amir Cohen / Reuters
    An Israeli soldier carries a hose as he walks in a burning field on the Israeli side of the border fence between Israel and Gaza. 
  • Spencer Platt via Getty Images
    A teenager cries as he learns that his brother was killed today during protests at the border fence. 
  • AHMAD GHARABLI via Getty Images
    A picture taken on May 15, 2018 from the Israeli kibbutz of Mefalsim shows fumes from tear gas cannisters blowing amidst Palestinians protesting near the border east of the northern Gaza strip of Beit Hanun, during demonstrations marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba -- also known as Day of the Catastrophe in 1948 -- and against the US' relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 
  • SAID KHATIB via Getty Images
    A Palestinian man uses a slingshot during clashes with Israeli forces. 
  • Mohammed Salem / Reuters
    The brother of Palestinian Shaher al-Madhoon, who was killed during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, reacts over his body at a hospital morgue in the northern Gaza Strip. 
  • Mohamad Torokman / Reuters
    A female Palestinian medic is evacuated after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli forces. 
  • Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters
    Palestinians collect tires to be burnt. 
  • Mohammed Salem / Reuters
     A relative mourns as she carries the body of eight-month-old Palestinian infant Laila al-Ghandour, who died after inhaling tear gas during a protest against U.S embassy move to Jerusalem at the Israel-Gaza border, during her funeral in Gaza City.