Sanders condemns killing of Palestinian protesters

Sanders condemns killing of Palestinian protesters
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBoogeywomen — GOP vilifies big-name female Dems RealClearPolitics editor: Moderate Democrats are losing even when they win Sanders tests his brand in Florida MORE (I-Vt.) on Saturday condemned the deaths of Palestinian protesters during demonstrations on Israel's southern border.

At least 17 Palestinians were killed by both live ammunition and rubber bullets fired by Israeli troops in Gaza after tens of thousands of Palestinians marched along the Israel-Gaza border Friday, CNN reported.

Sanders issued a statement Saturday afternoon condemning the deaths and declaring in a series of tweets that Palestinians should be free to protest without fear.

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"The killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces in Gaza is tragic. It is the right of all people to protest for a better future without a violent response," the Vermont senator wrote.

"Meanwhile, the situation in Gaza remains a humanitarian disaster. The U.S. must play a more positive role in ending the Gaza blockade and helping Palestinians and Israelis build a future that works for all," he added.

Sanders's remarks make him among the first U.S. politicians to speak out publicly against Friday's violence.

His tweets came after video of the confrontations between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters gained attention on social media.

Sanders has criticized Israel in the past, in particular for the country's 2014 response to terrorist attacks committed by pro-Palestinian armed groups, while also defending Israel's right to defeat terrorism.

“As somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves but to live in peace and security without fear of a terrorist attack,” Sanders said in 2016. “That is not a debate.”

Sanders is also an opponent of Boycott, Divest and Sanction, an international anti-Israel boycott meant to protest treatment of Palestinians by Israeli authorities.