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16 gunned down by Israelis

Palestinians march to return to Gaza

 Palestinians march to return to Gaza
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Palestinian men march on Saturday in the Israeli occupied West Bank city of Nablus in a symbolic funeral in solidarity with those who were killed a day earlier in the Gaza Strip during clashes with Israeli forces on Land Day. Internet photo

By BBC Online
01st-Apr-2018       
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At least 16 people have been killed by Israeli forces and hundreds more wounded during protests at the Gaza-Israeli border, Palestinian officials say.
Thousands had marched to the border at the start of a six-week protest, dubbed the Great March of Return.
The Israeli military said soldiers had opened fire after rioting, reports BBC.
UN Security Council members meeting in New York have called for an investigation into the violence.
Palestinians have pitched five camps near the border for the protest. They are demanding that refugees be allowed to return to homes that are now in Israel.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the UN Security Council to help provide "protection for our Palestinian people".
"I... place full responsibility on the Israeli authorities for the loss of the martyrs who were killed today," he said.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said there were about 17,000 Palestinians in five locations near the border fence. It said it had "enforced a closed military zone" in the area surrounding Gaza.
Although most protesters stayed in the encampments, some groups of youths ignored organisers' calls to stay away from the fence and headed closer to Israeli positions.
The IDF said troops were "firing towards the main instigators" to break up rioting that included petrol bombs and stones being thrown at the fence.
A spokesman said all those who were killed had been trying to breach or damage the border fence, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Israel said it had targeted sites of the Hamas militant group.
Israel deployed tanks and snipers. Witnesses said a drone had been used in at least one location to drop tear gas. Hamas, the militant group that has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, does not recognise Israel's right to exist but last year said it was ready to accept an interim Palestinian state limited to Gaza and the West Bank.
Addressing protesters on Friday, Hamas senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh said "we will not concede a single inch of the land of Palestine".
He said: "There is no alternative to Palestine and no solution except to return." Palestinian health officials said at least 400 people had been wounded by live ammunition. It said one of those killed was a 16-year-old boy.
The Israeli military oversees a no-go zone along the Gaza border, citing security concerns, and has doubled its troop presence for the protest. It fears the protest could be an attempt at a mass breach of the border.
The Israeli foreign ministry said the protest was a "deliberate attempt to provoke a confrontation with Israel" and responsibility for any clashes lay "solely with Hamas and other participating Palestinian organisations".
UN deputy political affairs chief Taye-Brook Zerihoun told the council the situation in Gaza "might deteriorate in the coming days" and called for civilians, particularly children, to not be targeted, Reuters news agency reports.
"Israel must uphold its responsibilities under international human rights and humanitarian law," he said.
"Lethal force should only be used as a last resort with any resulting fatalities properly investigated by the authorities."
Palestinians have erected five main camp areas along the Israel border for the protest, from Beit Hanoun in the north to Rafah near the Egyptian border.
The Great March of Return protests started on Friday as 30 March marks Land Day, which commemorates the killing of six protesters by Israeli security forces during demonstrations over land confiscation in 1976.
The protest is scheduled to end on 15 May, which Palestinians call Nakba (catastrophe) and which marks the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the conflict surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948. Palestinians have long demanded their right to return but Israel says they should settle in a future Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank.

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