News World Deaths are tragic, PM says, as Gaza turmoil rolls on

Deaths are tragic, PM says, as Gaza turmoil rolls on

Across the divide: Gaza (left) and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu with Melania Trump on Jerusalem. Photos: AAP
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Amid violent and deadly protests in Gaza, the Australian government has urged both Israel and Palestine to turn down the heat.

Israeli forces shot and killed at least 55 Palestinians and wounded more than 1200 during mass protests on Monday along the Gaza border.

A few kilometres away, Israel and the US held a festive inauguration ceremony for the new American embassy in contested Jerusalem.

It was by far the deadliest day of cross-border violence since a devastating 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Hamas’ conduct was confrontational and seeking to provoke Israeli defence forces.

“Any loss of life is tragic in these circumstances,” Mr Turnbull told 3AW radio on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop expressed deep regret and sadness over the deaths and injuries.

“We recognise that Israel has legitimate security concerns and needs to protect its population, and we call on Israel to be proportionate in its response and refrain from excessive use of force,” Ms Bishop said.

“Australia urges Palestinian protesters to refrain from violence and attempting to enter into Israeli territory during the March of Return.”

Ms Bishop said the violence underlines the importance of a return to negotiations toward a two-state solution and peace.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called on both sides to de-escalate the situation.

“When you see the death of children, no good comes of that. That’s a disaster,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

Gaza US embassy
Protestors in Instanbul march against the Jerusalem embassy opening. Photo: AAP

Meanwhile, former prime minister Tony Abbott believes Australia should follow the US lead and shift its embassy to Jerusalem.

“Australia should consider following Trump’s move,” Mr Abbott tweeted.

Mr Turnbull confirmed there were no plans to move Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv.

Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong agreed it was sensible not to shift Australia’s post.

“Jerusalem is contested territory,” she told Sky News.

“It’s not helpful for a two-state solution for there to be unilateral declarations in respect to that contested territory.”