Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza took part in the first day of a planned six-week protest to support the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their former homes in Israel.
Security forces killed at least 15 protesters on Friday, including 10 people who the IDF said belonged to armed groups in Gaza. The IDF asserted that many protesters threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at its soldiers, opened fire on them, attempted to infiltrate Israel and set tires on fire. Videos shared on Facebook and Twitter appear to show some protesters participating in violent actions, while several others did not.
However, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said in a statement on Friday that Israel opened fire on “unarmed civilians” and violated international legal obligations to distinguish between civilians and combatants.
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Videos shared on Twitter and Facebook appeared to show soldiers shooting at Palestinians who did not present an imminent threat to their lives.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said on Monday that the army had made some mistakes, which it intends to investigate, according to the Associated Press. Earlier in the week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told Army Radio that there will be no “commission of inquiry.”
Separately, PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with newly appointed Egyptian General Intelligence Services chief Abbas Kamil in Ramallah on Tuesday.
Kamil conveyed an “important message” from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Abbas, Wafa reported, without elaborating.
Egypt has recently been placing pressure on Abbas not to move forward with cuts to budgets allocated to Gaza, according to two Palestinian sources who spoke to The Jerusalem Post.
In a fiery speech last month, Abbas hinted that he was about to cut all budgets allocated to the Gaza Strip if the PA does not take full control of the coastal enclave.
“If everything is in our hands, we will take full responsibility [for Gaza]. But if everything is not in our hands, [Hamas] will bear full responsibility for everything [in Gaza],” he said.
Hamas has controlled Gaza since ousting the Fatah-dominated PA from the territory in 2007.