Israel uses drones to drop tear gas on Gaza marchers


Israel's military on Saturday defended soldiers who fired on Gazan protesters and said it was ready to respond with force again as demonstrations continued, raising prospects of a fresh conflict with Islamist movement Hamas.

Israeli security forces killed at least 15 Palestinians as they protested on Friday and injured an estimated 1,400, with more than 750 wounded by live rounds, the Gaza Health Ministry said, actions that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised his troops for. From there, large crowds marched to the fence, and some among them started throwing stones at soldiers who responded with live fire, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Palestinians accused Israel of using disproportionate force, as did Turkey.

On Friday evening, Gaza's Hamas leaders called on protesters to retreat from the border area until Saturday.

A Palestinian man walks past a closed shop on March 31 in empty streets of the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus during a general strike called for by local leaders in solidarity with Gaza.

Israel has reportedly deployed thousands of troops along the border in anticipation of Friday's mass demonstrations.

It also said there were attempts to damage the fence and infiltrate Israel, while alleging there was an attempted shooting attack against soldiers along the border that caused no casualties.

Israel will target "terror organisations" in Gaza if violence along the territory's border with Israel drags on, the chief military spokesman warned, a day after 15 Palestinians were killed amid protests involving thousands of people near the border fence.

The violence erupted on Friday after mass demonstrations took place demanding the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to land in Israel.

Meanwhile, Egypt's foreign ministry condemned on Friday night the use of "excessive violence" by Israeli occupation forces against Palestinian protesters gathered at the Gaza border with Israel on Friday to commemorate Land Day.

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Later, Israel's army released the names of 10 Palestinians killed it said were affiliated with militant groups. In the end, 15 Palestinians were shot dead and more than 1400 injured, a lot of them from live gunfire.

The Israeli military said thousands participated in the clashes, and that troops opened fire at the "main instigators".

On Friday morning, a Palestinian farmer was killed by Israeli tank fire near Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

The weekslong demonstrations, to end May 15, are created to commemorate the Nakba or "catastrophe" when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had to flee their land or were expelled during the war in 1948 that led to the creation of Israel.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of life today", the diplomat added.

Mansour al-Otaibi, Kuwait's ambassador to the United Nations, issued a statement criticising the Security Council for failing to take action against Israel.

The developments come on the heels of months of anger over US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"Reports indicate that most of the demonstrators stayed well away from the border fence and were not violent", the United Nations reported Zerihoun as saying. It comes a day after the planned move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a step that has provoked worldwide criticism and Palestinian anger.

The first in a series of protests planned through mid-May, Friday marked Land Day, when Palestinian land was confiscated by Israel in 1976.

Hamas, which seeks Israel's destruction, had earlier urged protesters to adhere to the "peaceful nature" of the protest.