Mourners surround Leila’s mother as she holds the body of her eight-month-old daughter in a morgue
At just eight months old, Leila Al Ghandour is believed to be the youngest victim of the worst day of violence in the territory for four years.
Her death yesterday, reportedly from tear gas inhalation, took the number of people killed after Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinian protesters to 60.
Gaza Strip officials said eight of the dead were children.
More than 2,700 people were injured, many of whom were shot in the legs, in events described by Palestinian leaders as a “massacre” but which the Israelis said was a “measured” response to threatened terrorism by the militant Palestinian group Hamas.
Monday’s bloodshed came as the US opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, in effect recognising Israel’s claim over the ancient city as its capital.
Palestinians, however, claim East Jerusalem, which is part of the West Bank, as the capital of a future state.
More violence was expected amid simmering tensions last night on the day that marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the first war between the newly created Jewish state and its Arab neighbours in 1948.
In preparation for a further wave of protests, tanks rolled in and sharpshooters took up positions on the Israeli side of the border.
Teargas canisters fall from the sky in Gaza, dropped yesterday by drones like the one circled
Speaking from there yesterday Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan, said: “I suspect that the death toll that occurred on Monday will probably deter quite a few people from taking part but there are quite a few massing here already.
“I think we will see the same consequences. I would be very surprised if we don’t see some more people killed.”
Hundreds marched in Gaza City after little Leila’s body was taken from a morgue, wrapped in a Palestinian flag, and carried to her grave. Hers was one of a succession of funeral ceremonies.
Leading the procession, her grief-stricken mother pressed the baby’s body to her chest and cried: “Let her stay with me, it is too early for her to go.”
Leila’s family said her mother had left the baby at home to join the demonstrations.
It was reported that when Leila began crying her uncle took her towards the protest area in order to locate his sister.
She was said to have then been victim of a teargas canister dropped by an Israeli drone.
Monday’s violence erupted after up to 40,000 protestors gathered at three crossing points in the security fence which separates the Hamascontrolled Gaza Strip from Israel.
The Israeli military said at least 24 of those killed on Monday were “terrorists with documented terror background” and most of them were active operatives of Hamas.
Prime Minister Theresa May described the loss of life as “tragic and extremely concerning” and urged Israel to show restraint.
But Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, said live fire was used in a “measured” and “surgical” way.
He said militants stoked up the protests to “breach the border, to get inside Israel and to kill Israeli citizens”.
Mr Regev said: “If we allow the Hamas terrorists to enter Israel, we will have dead Israelis. We must protect our border.”
Asked about life in Gaza, Mr Regev acknowledged the Palestinians “live a very difficult life”, but blamed Hamas, claiming it does nothing for the people but “invests its efforts in a holy war – their words, not mine – against Israel”.
More than two million people live in the narrow Gaza Strip, more than two-thirds of them refugees, and face continual economic hardship.
drones drop lethal canisters
‘People are massing again. I’m expecting to see more die’