Israeli and Palestinian leaders accused each other of the deaths of at least 16 Palestinians involved in a mass protest along the Gaza border, with each offering threats to escalate violence. The Israeli army argued that Gaza militants used civilian demonstrators to cover the murder of their compatriots on Friday
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel and a video about an unarmed teenager gunned down by Israeli snipers They fired on soldiers and tried to detonate near the border fence. The protest, which reached its peak on Friday with 30,000 participants and will run for the next six weeks, is "an organized terrorist operation," the Israeli army said in a tweet on Saturday. Hamas said on Friday that five of the dead were members of their military wing.
"What we saw yesterday was attempts to launch rockets, attempts to conduct live attacks, Molotov cocktails, attempts to set fire to the security fence, and a lot of terrorist activity," the Israel Defense Force said in separate tweets. "Nothing was carried out unchecked, everything was accurate and measured, and we know where each bullet landed, we are only interested in terrorists trying to disrupt Israeli life, we are only acting against them."
The Israeli army warned that it would intensify its reaction should the violence continue. Abbas said the Palestinians needed international protection from Israel, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation into the death on Friday.
The protests come in light of growing tensions over President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in the December US peace plan, which Abbas has already rejected. After Trump announced plans to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Abbas lifted all formal Palestinian contacts with the White House in December.
Hamas planned the protests against the Palestinian displacement that began in 1
The Hamas leaders presented the initiative as a peaceful effort, but acknowledged that it might get out of hand. The army said riots had broken out in five places on the border. Palestinian eyewitnesses said that at one point about 90 people cut the security fence and confronted soldiers, many being shot in the legs. Gaza's Hamas-led Ministry of Health said 16 Palestinians were killed and more than 1,400 injured Friday, while another three Palestinians were injured Saturday.
Violence against Israel has risen sharply in recent weeks. Palestinians, who want the eastern part of Jerusalem as their own capital, stormed the Gaza fence and planted bombs aimed at Israeli soldiers, retaliation for fire and air. At least five Israelis have been killed in knife and car raids in Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent weeks
Jason Greenblatt, who leads the US peace effort, accused Hamas of being an instigator " hostile march "to trigger a confrontation.
"Instead, Hamas should focus on much-needed improvements to the lives of Palestinians in Gaza instead of inciting violence against Israel, which only adds to the plight and undermines the chances of peace," tweeted Greenblatt. 19659002] High-ranking Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who appeared in the tent camps on Friday, introduced the march as a plea for US peace efforts, saying that this was the beginning of the Palestinian return to all that is now Israel.
"The Great March of Return is a message to Trump that his deal and all those who support it, that there is no concession for Jerusalem, no alternative to Palestine and no solution, but the return," Haniyeh said. The Palestinians "will not agree to keep the" right of return "as a slogan."
Israel regards the call for a mass return of Palestinians as an offer to eradicate Israel as a Jewish state.
The protests in Gaza correspond to the dates in the Palestinian calendar. Friday was the "Landtag", during which six Arab citizens were killed by Israeli security forces in 1976 during demonstrations against land confiscation. It is also the beginning of the one-week Jewish Passover.
The main march to the fence on May 15 will commemorate the Palestinian "Nakba" or the catastrophe of its expulsion in founding Israel. It takes place one day after the opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of Israel's independence. Ramadan, the Muslim holy fasting month, which often witnesses an increase in Palestinian attacks, also begins on May 15.
– With the support of Yaacov Benmeleh