An Israeli rights group has decried Israel’s response to unarmed Palestinian protesters along border with the Gaza Strip as “illegal”.
"Shooting unarmed demonstrators is illegal and the command that allows it is manifestly illegal," B’tselem group said in a statement on Saturday.
At least 15 Gazans were martyred and hundreds injured on Friday when Israeli forces opened fire on protesters marking “Land Day”, an annual Palestinian commemoration of the deaths of six Arab citizens of Israel killed by Israeli forces in 1976 during demonstrations over government land confiscations in northern Israel.
B’Tselem said demonstration areas should not be dealt with as “combat zones”.
"Armed soldiers and unarmed demonstrators are not at war,” it said.
Friday’s rallies were the start of a six-week protest that culminates on May 15, the day the Palestinians call as “Nakba”, or “Catastrophe”, when Israel was created.
The demonstrators are demanding that Palestinian refugees be allowed the right of return to towns and villages which their families fled from, or were driven out of, when the state of Israel was created in 1948.