WASHINGTON – The deaths of 52 Gazan protesters along the border are “tragic” but ultimately the responsibility of Hamas, not the IDF, the Trump administration said Monday.

Riots along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip flared on Monday in response to the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

The White House has blamed Hamas, a terrorist organization that governs the strip, for stoking violent protests against Israel that have goaded Israeli security forces.

“We believe that Hamas as an organization is engaged in cynical action that is leading to these deaths,” White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah told reporters. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas.”

Israel has a right to defend itself and its borders, he said.

Other countries, including France, have characterized Israel’s reaction as disproportionate.

The IDF said Gazans were marching toward the border in an effort to infiltrate Israel.

The Palestinians, armed with Molotov cocktails, slingshots and rocks, deployed kites and burned tires to obscure the vision of Israeli forces.

In addition to live ammunition, the IDF used drones armed with cameras and tear gas to disperse the protesters.

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