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Israel rejects calls for probe into Gaza protest killings

Families buried their dead relatives this weekend [AFP]

Date of publication: 1 April, 2018

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Israel has said it will not investigate the killing of protesters in Gaza on Friday, and threatens to 'expand' its military campaigns against Palestinians.

Israel has rejected calls for an independent probe into the killing of 16 Palestinians on Friday by troops on the Gaza border.

Human rights groups and some world leaders have criticised the Israeli military's use of live fire on Friday, during protests on the Gaza border.

Palestinians said the soldiers fired on protesters who posed no threat.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini have called for an independent investigation.

A draft UN Security Council statement urging restraint and calling for an investigation of the violence was blocked by the US.

Israel has shown no signs of admitting wrongdoing with  Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praising troops for "guarding the country's borders".

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the protests were not a "Woodstock festival" and rejected calls for a probe into the killings.

"There will be no commission of inquiry," he told Israel's public radio.

"There will be no such thing here. We shall not cooperate with any commission of inquiry."

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Israel's response to the protests saying they were an "inhumane attack".

Netanyahu on Sunday rejected this criticism.

"The most moral army in the world will not be lectured to on morality from someone who for years has been bombing civilians indiscriminately," Netanyahu tweeted.

He has previously labelled Erdogan as someone who "bombs Kurdish villagers".

Friday saw 16 Palestinians killed and more than 1,400 were wounded Friday, 758 of them from live fire and others injured by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, the health ministry in Gaza said.

No casualties were reported among Israelis.

Footage suggests one Palestinian protester was shot in the back.

Israel had deployed 100 special forces snipers on the border Friday during the build up to the protests.

Human rights groups have slammed Israel's excessive use of violence.

"While some Palestinian demonstrators have thrown stones and other objects towards the fence, it's hard to believe how this would be an imminent danger to the lives of well-equipped soldiers protected by snipers, tanks and drones," Amnesty said.

Israel has threatened to "expand" its response.

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