Palestinians followed through with their vow to protest massively along the Gaza border yesterday with tens of thousands demonstrating and 41 killed by Israeli fire as clashes erupted over the controversial inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
The death toll made it the deadliest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.
The 41, including a 14-year-old, were shot dead by Israeli forces as clashes broke out at five points along the Gaza border hours before the opening of the embassy. More than 900 Palestinians were wounded in the clashes, the health ministry in Gaza said, with the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate saying eight journalists were among them.
The Israeli army said that more than 35,000 people were involved in the protests and clashes. It accused Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas of leading a "terrorist operation under the cover of masses of people."
The Palestinian Authority government based in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, accused Israel of carrying out a "terrible massacre." Palestinians threw stones, rolled burning tires towards the border and tried to approach the fence to damage it and potentially break through, with Israeli snipers firing from the other side.
Bilal Fasayfes, 31, was getting on a free bus to the border with his wife and two children in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis. "If half the people die we won't care," he said. "We will keep going so the other half can live with dignity."
Israeli warplanes also struck a Hamas base close to the border, the army said, saying forces had come under fire. The army also said it killed three Palestinians seeking to plant an explosive device.
Hamas leaders had backed attempts to break through the border fence during the protest.
The protests were against the transfer of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem.