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Israeli troops kill three protesters, injure 600 during 'riots' along Gaza border

Palestinian demonstrators try to pull down part of the fence Friday on the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City in the central Gaza Strip, during the fifth straight Friday of mass demonstrations and clashes along the border with Israel. (Mahmud Hams/Getty Images)

Three protesters were shot dead by Israeli troops Friday along the Gaza border, just hours after the United Nations human rights chief criticized Israel for using “excessive force” toward demonstrators, Reuters news reported.

Gaza medical officials said two protesters hit by bullets were in critical condition and 600 more were wounded. Among the injured was a Palestinian journalist who was hit in the foot by a bullet. “Dozens more,” including four medics, were treated for gas inhalation, Reuters reported.

Israeli troops stayed behind fortifications on their side of the 25-mile fence as they fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters at five locations on the Gazan side, the report states.

How many people were involved?

About 10,000 Gazans participated in what the Israeli military called "riots," and some of them tried to breach the border into Israel, Reuters reported. The Israel military said it executed “rules of engagement” to keep people from gaining entry.

Some protesters cleared away barbed wire coils that Israeli troops placed overnight in Gazan territory in an attempt to create a buffer zone around the fence. Others threw rocks and rolled burning tires toward the fence. Some attached cans of burning petrol to kites and flew them over the fence and into Israeli territory, according to the report.

When did this conflict begin?

Gaza residents began staging protests along the border fence on March 30, a day known as the Palestinian refugees’ ‘right of return.’ In all, Israeli troops have killed 41 Palestinians and wounded more than 5,000, the report states.

In a statement, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said the loss of life is deplorable and a “staggering number” of injuries were caused by live ammunition.

Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist political organization and militant group, was responsible for Palestinian casualties, Israel’s U.N. envoy, Danny Danon, told the Security Council. The group reportedly used innocent Palestinian women and children as human shields, while they cowered behind them.

“The terrorists are hiding while allowing, even hoping, for their people to die. This is evil in its purest form,” Dannon said.

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