Jerusalem – Israel's defense minister says troops acted appropriately by only firing on Palestinian protesters who charged toward Gaza's border with Israel. Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that those who protested peacefully were not harmed, and he rejected accusations of excessive use of force in the mass protests Friday in which 15 Palestinians were killed. It was the area's deadliest violence in four years. Gaza's ruling militant Hamas group has touted the protests as the launch of a six-week campaign against the territory's decade-old blockade. Israel says thousands of Palestinians approached the border, with hundreds engaged in acts of violence ranging from rock-throwing to hurling firebombs to opening fire at Israeli troops guarding the border.
Palestinian health officials said 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire and more than 750 hit by live rounds Friday, making it the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 cross-border war between Israel and Hamas. In Friday's confrontations, large crowds gathered near the fence, with smaller groups of protesters rushing forward, throwing stones and burning tires. Israeli troops responded with live fire and rubber-coated steel pellets, while drones dropped tear gas from above. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said that while thousands of Palestinians approached the border Friday, those engaged in stone-throwing were in the hundreds. General Manelis denied soldiers used excessive force, saying those killed by Israeli troops were men between the ages of 18 and 30 who were involved in violence and belonged to militant factions.
GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP – Palestinian mourners in the Gaza Strip on Saturday were burying their dead, including a journalist, after Israeli troops killed nine during the latest border clashes in a week of bloodshed. Thousands of protesters approached the border fence around Gaza for a second Friday in a row, burning tires and hurling stones at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and live ammunition. In addition to the nine dead, at least 491 were wounded by Israeli gunfire, the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza enclave said. Israel said there were around 20,000 protesters and that they were seeking to breach the border. Numbers were down from the previous Friday, when tens of thousands approached the border in demonstrations that saw Israeli forces kill 19 Palestinians, making it the bloodiest day in Gaza since a 2014 war.
KHUZAA, GAZA STRIP – Thousands of Palestinians protested along Gaza's sealed border with Israel on Friday, engulfing the volatile area in black smoke from burning tires to try to block the view of Israeli snipers and cheering a Hamas strongman who pledged that the border fence will eventually fall. Israeli troops opened fire from across the border, killing at least nine Palestinians and wounding 491 others -- 33 of them seriously -- in the second mass border protest in a week, Gaza health officials said. A well-known Palestinian journalist was among the dead, and hundreds of others suffered other injuries, including tear gas inhalation, the officials said. The deaths brought to at least 31 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire since the previous week. Early Saturday, Palestinian health officials confirmed that Yasser Murtaga had died from a gunshot wound sustained while covering demonstrations near the Israeli border in Khuzaa.
Demonstrators are lining up along the fence dividing Israel and Gaza. At least three of the 52 Palestinians reportedly killed Monday in clashes ahead of the Jerusalem opening of the U.S. Embassy to Israel were "armed terrorists" caught trying to plant a bomb near the Gaza border fence, Israel's military said. More than 35,000 protesters amassed at a dozen locations along the security fence, with many engaging in skirmishes that pushed the death toll Monday to the highest in Gaza since a 2014 cross-border standoff between the militant group Hamas and the Jewish state, according to the Associated Press. Gaza health officials told the news agency that 52 people so far have been killed in Monday's violence, and at least 772 have been wounded. May 14, 2018: Palestinian medics and protesters evacuate a wounded man during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip.