An image showing a group of young Israelis, sitting by the Gaza border, cheering and applauding the Israeli authorities firing ammunition, bombs at Palestinians, as though they were at an "outdoor cinema," has drawn widespread condemnation from human rights groups and social media users.
An Israeli Channel 2 television news journalist, Nir Dvori, posted the photo Friday, showing the barbaric scene of seven Israelis smiling and waving at the cameras as they sat on an observation tower in Nahal Oz, outside the fenced-off Gaza strip overlooking Palestinians suffering gruesome attacks.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered on Israel-Gaza border as part of the six-week protests, the Great March of Return, which began March 30, marking the Palestinian land day, to demand they be allowed to return to lands they lost in the 1948 war, which also led to Israel's founding.
According to the Daily Sabah, nearly 500 Palestinians were injured Friday, while 33 suffered grave injuries as a result of live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets in the second mass border protest in a week. Many Palestinians suffered tear gas inhalation.
During the latest protest, at least 9 Palestinians were killed, and 1,070 others were injured during clashes with Israeli forces, and at least 5 are in serious condition.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Liz Throssell condemned the brutal killings of Palestinians by the Israeli military and has called for an independent investigation to hold those responsible for the killings accountable.
"Given the deplorable killing of 16 people and the injuring of reportedly more than 1,000 others during protests in Gaza, mostly on 30 March, we are gravely concerned that further violence could occur during demonstrations today and in the coming weeks," Throssel said in a statement.
Further adding, the Israeli authorities have violated the international human rights law in taking up arms against peaceful protesters.
"We remind Israel of its obligations to ensure that excessive force is not employed against protestors and that in the context of a military occupation, as is the case in Gaza, the unjustified and unlawful recourse to firearms by law enforcement resulting in death may amount to a wilful killing, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention," Throssel said in a statement.
On Saturday, a Palestinian journalist covering the Great March of Return in Gaza was killed after being hit by live Israeli ammunition Friday.
According to the NPR, the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate in Gaza said an additional five Palestinian reporters covering the border protests were wounded by Israeli fire.
"We echo the call by the UN Secretary-General for an independent and transparent investigation into these incidents, with a view to holding accountable those responsible."
The Israeli forces are "to respect the rights to peaceful assembly and expression and to use, to the extent possible, non-violent means to discharge their duties."
In accordance with international human rights law, firearms may be used only in cases of extreme necessity, as a last resort, and in response to an imminent threat of death or risk of serious injury," the U.N. high commissioner statement stated.
Throssel pointed out that even if the protesters "attempt to approach or cross the green-line fence," it "does not amount to a threat to life or serious injury that would justify the use of live ammunition."
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour opposition party in the U.K. slammed what he called Western “silence” over Israel’s latest killing spree of Palestinians at Gaza border and urged British Prime Minister Theresa May to join the U.N. in its call for an investigation. Corbyn said protesters had the right to protest and demonstrate freely adding that “firing live ammunition into crowds of unarmed civilians is illegal and inhumane and cannot be tolerated”.
“The silence from international powers with the responsibility of bringing a just settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict must end,” he stressed.
Last week, Israel's Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman denounced the calls made by the U.N. and the European Union for investigating the Israeli army’s violent suppression of protests.
Lieberman said, "from the standpoint of the [Israeli Defence Force] soldiers, they did what had to be done," further adding, he thinks, "all of our troops deserve a commendation."
The protests on the besieged Gaza strip will culminate on May 15, a day which marks the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment -- an event Palestinians call the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe."