Israeli army says only 'dozens' of Palestinians hit by live fire in Gaza
SAID KHATIB (AFP)
The Israeli military claimed on Sunday that "dozens" of Palestinians were hit by live bullets during Friday's mass protests in Gaza, dismissing the vastly higher figure published by the Hamas-run health ministry.
Some 40,000 people took part in the demonstrations along Gaza's heavily armed border with Israel last week, demanding the right of return for Palestinians who were displaced during Israel's War of Independence.
At least 16 people were killed, and over 1400 injured, sparking a flurry of international condemnations as well as local calls for an investigation into Israel's use of live fire.
The Hamas-run health ministry in the coastal enclave said that 758 of those injured suffered wounds from live bullets used by Israeli troops, including snipers.
However on Sunday an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson told i24NEWS that "the figure of 758 protesters injured by live fire on Friday, given by the Palestinian health ministry, is false."
The spokesperson said that the military's information indicates the figure was "in the dozens."
It is the first time the military have countered the Palestinian casualty figure with their own estimation.
The IDF came under scrutiny after deleting an English-language tweet that said it knew "where every bullet landed."
Israeli leaders have batted away suggestions the government investigate the high number of deaths during what was considered the worst episode of Israeli-Palestinian violence since the end of the 2014 Gaza war.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said calls for an independent probe were hypocritical and on Sunday repeated his stance.
"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."
The army is also sticking by its policy of using live rounds during confrontations along the Gaza perimeter, Haaretz reported on Monday citing an army official.
“We will continue to act against the demonstrators in Gaza as we acted last Friday,” the paper quoted the source as saying. The report also said that the IDF still stands by its claim that ten of the dead were terrorists, although it will investigate claims that some of those killed were unarmed civilians.
In Tel Aviv on Sunday, between 200 and 300 leftwing Israeli opposition demonstrators staged a protest outside the offices of Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party to denounce the government's role in the killings.
"The government is doing everything it can to present the Palestinians as the only guilty party whereas it played an important part in the responsibility for what happened," Hagit Ofran of the Peace Now group which opposes Israeli settlement of Palestinian land told AFP.
Peace Now issued a statement condemning what it called the army's "trigger happy" policies under orders from the government.
i24NEWS Senior Defense Correspondent Shai Ben-Ari and AFP contributed reporting.
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This is the leaders of the Arabs named by mistake Palestinian are offering their people for the last 70 years. They are using the international funds to promote: - hate, but not building a dissent life. -to build rockets targeting the Israeli civilians but not in the people economy -to build tunnels but not to fund electricity **** Ho- you brave Palestinian leaders???!!!!! - you are mighty heroes to be remembered for generation to come as hiding behind children- women- elders and sending them to confront the IDF. **** Arabs named by mistake Palestinians- you have a choice: Replace the death seeking leadership with one seeking to build a life for you.