United Nations condemns Israel's use of 'excessive force' in Gaza

34 Palestinians have been shot dead during the protests and more than 1,500 have been wounded by live fire according to the Gaza health ministry. REUTERS  Mohammed Salem

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With the Great March of Return protests entering their fifth consecutive week, tensions near the Gaza border continue to escalate as at least three more Palestinian protesters have reportedly been killed in clashes with Israeli troops. Israel has been accused by rights groups of using excessive force.

It said that at one point the protesters attempted a mass breach of the border fence intending to break into the Jewish state.

"By the end of today and next Friday, and the Friday after that more unarmed Palestinians who were alive this morning will have been killed, simply because, while exercising their right to protest, they approached a fence, or otherwise attracted the attention of the soldiers on the other side", Mr Zeid said.

Not a single rocket has been fired into Israel from Gaza in over two months, yet since March 30 Israel has killed more Palestinians in Gaza than it did in the previous 16 months, during which time militants launched over 60 rockets and mortars.

Israeli officials say hundreds of people rushed the border wall Friday, forcing Israeli defense forces to respond with deadly force.

Azzam Oweida, 15, was hit in the head during protests in southern Gaza on Friday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

Israel says Hamas is playing a leading role in the protests.

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Amnesty International on Friday called for governments worldwide to impose an arms embargo on Israel following the country's "disproportionate response" to the demonstrations along the border fence.

Israeli media cited Palestinian media as reporting that four people were injured in strikes on a position belonging to Hamas at a port in Gaza City in the northern Strip.

The violence has become a weekly occurrence since the protests began in March.

United Nations's warnings about excessive use of force appeared to have gone unheeded, with no change in Israeli tactics, and Israel only seemed to carry out serious investigations when there was independent video evidence, he said.

Danon called the protests "riots" and said Hamas "terrorists are hiding while allowing — even hoping — for their people to die". It is hard to see how tire-burning or stone-throwing, or even Molotov-cocktails thrown from a significant distance at heavily protected security forces in defensive positions can be seen to constitute such threat.

The Palestinian U.N. ambassador is accusing Israel's military forces of targeting civilians in Gaza and has described their deliberate killing and wounding as "terrorism".

The protests are continuing until May 16, which marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel through the forced expulsion of three quarters of a million Palestinians from their homes in 1948. Hamas denies the charge.

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