The Israeli military has reportedly shot dead at least 10 Palestinians on Friday, as protests continued for a second week in the Gaza strip.
A video journalist is amongst those killed, with at least 200 people thought to have been injured.
The protests, part of a daily rally that has been taking place since March 30, has seen thousands of people in attendance. At least 21 were killed last week, when Israeli troops fired at the demonstrators.
A senior Hamas leader said that Friday’s protest would see Palestinians “sending a message that our struggle is without arms and guns, and we will wait and see if the world receives the message, and pressures Israel to stop its crimes against our people”. Mahmoud al-Zahar, went on to tell reporters that “if the world fails to do so, we then will be obliged to use our arms.”
However Lt Col Jonathan Conricus of the Israeli security forces said that if the protestors “are actively attacking the fence, if they are throwing a molotov cocktail that is within striking distance of Israeli troops or similar activities, then those persons, those rioters, become, may become, a target”.
Israel’s response has led to statements of concern from the United Nations with Elizabeth Throssell, a spokeswoman for the United Nations human rights office stating that “an attempt to approach or cross the green-line fence by itself certainly does not amount to a threat to life or serious injury that would justify the use of live ammunition”.
“If there is unjustified and unlawful recourse to firearms resulting in death, that may amount to willful killing and that’s a grave breach of the fourth Geneva Convention,” she added.
UN secretary general António Guterres issued a statement saying, “I particularly urge Israel to exercise extreme caution with the use of force in order to avoid casualties”.
“Civilians must be able to exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully. I call upon all parties on the ground to avoid confrontation and exercise maximum restraint.”
However the response by member states has been criticised by the Palestinians with their ambassador to the UN in New York Riyad H. Mansour stating, “We believe that the Security Council to continue to disregard its responsibility is encouraging the Israeli side to continue with this onslaught against our people”.