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Palestinians Say Israeli Live Fire Killed 3 at Gaza Border

By VOA News April 27, 2018

Palestinian officials said Israeli soldiers on Friday fatally shot three Palestinian protesters in Gaza as thousands of Palestinians demonstrated along the border for a fifth consecutive week.

Protesters gathered a few hundred meters from the Gaza Strip's border fence with Israel, with some throwing stones and setting tires on fire. Witnesses said a smaller group approached the fence and tried to break through it, drawing Israeli fire of tear gas, rubber pellets and live rounds. The violence has become a weekly occurrence since the protests began in March.

Israel has defended opening fire on the protesters, saying it is defending its sovereign border. Israel also accuses Hamas, which rules Gaza, of using the protesters as cover to carry out attacks. Hamas denies the charge.

Palestinian health officials said that in addition to the three people killed Friday, more than 600 others were injured, including 138 hit by live fire.

The violence came hours after the U.N. human rights chief criticized Israel for using "excessive force" against demonstrators.

In a statement Friday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called the loss of Palestinian lives over the past five weeks "deplorable."

"The staggering number of injuries caused by live ammunition only confirms the sense that excessive force has been used against demonstrators – not once, not twice, but repeatedly," he said.

At least 41 protesters have been killed by Israeli live fire and more than 1,600 wounded in the weekly protests since March 30, according to Palestinian health officials.

The demonstrations, set to end May 15, are designed to commemorate what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or "catastrophe," when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had to flee their land or were expelled during the war in 1948 that led to the creation of Israel.

The demonstration is expected to end at the same time Washington plans to open an embassy in Jerusalem, a move that has infuriated Palestinians, who have claimed the eastern section of the city as the capital of their future state.

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