16 died and Palestinian health officials said more than 750 people were hit by live rounds, making it the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 cross-border war between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist group.
Israel's Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, the chief army spokesman, denied allegations of excessive use of force, saying those killed by Israeli troops were men between the ages of 18 and 30 who were involved in violence and belonged to militant factions.
He says that Hamas were using the protests as a cover for launching attacks on Israel and that five of those killed were from a Hamas wing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the troops for 'guarding the country's borders'.
Christian Aid partner organisation Adalah (the Legal Center for Arab Minority rights in Israel) raised concerns that the Israeli military's use of snipers against unarmed Palestinian civilian protesters in Gaza is illegal.
Christian Aid's Head of Middle East Policy, William Bell, has just returned from Gaza. He said: "Live gunfire on unarmed civilians constitutes a violation of the international legal obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants. Israel is obligated to act in accordance with international law.
"Having just returned from Gaza and witnessed the fast deteriorating situation, I despair at the level of international indifference. Does Israel really believe that turning their guns on demonstrators is the answer? This issue will never go away until equality, equity, humanity and dignity are the norm for all.
He said: "For Israelis and Palestinians to be truly secure, democratic and peaceful, and for an end to the poverty that degrades the lives of so many Palestinians, Israel's occupation and control over their lives must end and all must be treated equally."
He continued: "Chronically sick patients are denied access to urgent healthcare outside. Families are separated for years on end. Palestinian political parties are completely divided to the point of inflicting violence upon each other. And the UN has predicted that it will be uninhabitable by 2020. It should not surprise anyone that people are demonstrating and want to be able to move freely."
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