Sixteen Gazans were killed and dozens were wounded after about 30,000 Palestinians stormed the fenced border between Gaza and Israel on Friday. The violent clash killed five members of the military arm of Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip.
The protest, called March of Return, is part of a Palestinian movement that seeks to reclaim land their ancestors fled during Israel's 1948 War of Independence.
Some of the protesters threw stones and firebombs while others rolled burning tires at Israeli soldiers stationed along the fence, according to published reports.
Is this expected to get worse?
The conflict could “deteriorate in the coming days,” a senior United Nations leader told the Security Council on Friday. The UN is reportedly asking that no civilians, especially children, are targeted during the protests.
"Israel must uphold its responsibilities under international human rights and humanitarian law. Lethal force should only be used as a last resort with any resulting fatalities properly investigated by the authorities," said Taye-Brook Zerihoun, the UN deputy political affairs chief.
In an attempt to disperse the protests, the Israeli military responded with live ammunition and “other riot control methods,” including tear gas, Haaretz.com reported.
All of the people killed were engaged in violence, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman, told the Times of Israel. The report also claims that Gaza health officials have “exaggerated the number of those wounded.
According to the Manelis, "several dozen at most were injured by live fire while the rest were merely shaken up by tear gas and other riot dispersal means.”
The IDF faced a “a violent, terrorist demonstration" at six points along the security fence targeted its fire where there were attempts to breach or damage the the fence, Manelis said.
What is Israel's strategy?
Israel “will not allow a massive breach of the fence into Israeli territory,” Manelis said. He also said Israel will likely go after the terrorist groups behind the protests if the violence continues.
Protests organizers have said the mass marches will continue until May 15, the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. Every year, March 30 marks the annual "Land Day" which has been a day of protest for Palestinians worldwide since 1976.