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Israel Rejects Independent Probe Into Deadly Violence Against Palestinian Protesters


Palestinian protesters carry a wounded man who was shot by Israeli troops during a protest near the Gaza Strip border with Israel, in eastern Gaza City, March 31, 2018.

Israel said 10 of the 15 Palestinian protesters killed by Israeli gunfire Friday were "documented" terrorists who tried to sneak across the border.

Friday's violence along the Gaza Strip was the deadliest day between Israelis and Palestinians since 2014. More than 1,400 people were wounded.

The Israel military said its soldiers opened fire at the demonstrators only when a number of them tried to damage the border fence and threw rocks and firebombs.

There are also allegations some demonstrators tried to goad soldiers into a gunfight.

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas toward Palestinian protesters as they gather on the Israel-Gaza border, March 30, 2018.
Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas toward Palestinian protesters as they gather on the Israel-Gaza border, March 30, 2018.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the soldiers deserve medals for defending the country's borders.

He said Israel will not cooperate with any independent investigation into the violence, and accused Hamas of "cynically exploiting women and children" protesters as a cover while it carries out acts of violence.

The United States blocked a U.N. Security Council statement urging a U.N. probe into the violence.

"I do not understand the chorus of hypocrites who want a commission of inquiry," Lieberman wrote on Twitter Saturday. "They got confused and thought Hamas organized a Woodstock festival yesterday, and that we should give them flowers."

A Palestinian hurls stones at Israeli troops during a protest along Israel's border with Gaza, March 30, 2018.
A Palestinian hurls stones at Israeli troops during a protest along Israel's border with Gaza, March 30, 2018.

Calls for ‘revenge’

Many of the Palestinians who were wounded said they were not part of the more militant marchers. Some said they were shot for merely standing close to the fence. Other witnesses said some victims were hit by bullets while running away from the violence, not toward it.

"It's important to show that we suffer under the occupation, we suffer from the policies of the Israeli government, and we will not stay silent," Palestinian church leader Jamal Khader said in the West Bank Sunday.

Other Palestinians were more militant, calling for "revenge."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired back at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who strongly condemned Israel for what he called an "inhumane attack."

Israeli soldiers are seen next to the border fence on the Israeli side of the border with the northern Gaza Strip, Israel, March 30, 2018.
Israeli soldiers are seen next to the border fence on the Israeli side of the border with the northern Gaza Strip, Israel, March 30, 2018.

​"The most moral army in the world will not be lectured by someone who for years has been bombing civilians indiscriminately," Netanyahu said, calling Erdogan someone who "bombs Kurdish villagers."

Israelis are preparing to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel in May.

WATCH: Turkey reacts

Turkish, Israeli Leader Trade Barbs Over Palestinians Killed in Gaza Clash
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​Palestinians have set up tent camps along the entire length of the Gaza Strip. They called May the anniversary of the Nakba, or "catastrophe," when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, unwilling to live under Israeli law, fled their homes in the war that led to the creation and U.N. recognition of the Jewish state.

Israel has deployed more than 100 snipers along the Gaza Strip as it plans a nationwide celebration for its 70th birthday.

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