At least seven Palestinian protestors were killed on Friday after Israeli forces opened fire along the Gaza border, The Telegraph reported. This takes the toll to 27 in the week-long protests. Hundreds of protesors suffered injuries and were taken to hospitals for treatments.

The Israeli military said around 20,000 Palestinians staged demonstrations along the border on Friday. They accused the protestors of setting tyres on fire to create black smoke that would block the view of Israeli snipers, CNN reported. Two teenagers, aged 16 and 17, were among those who were killed.

The protestors have set up tent encampments a few hundred metres inside the 65-km fence that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip, Reuters reported. Israeli military claimed that Hamas, which is considered a militant group by the United States and the United Kingdom, was behind the violent demonstrations.

The March of Return

On March 31, some 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza began what they call the “March of Return”, a six-week-long protest demanding that refugees be allowed to return to their homes that are now in Israel. They have pitched five camps along the border with the support of Islamist group Hamas, prompting the Israel Defense Forces to “enforce a closed military zone” in the areas around Gaza.

The protest is scheduled to end on May 15, which Palestinians call Nakba (catastrophe) – it marks the day hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced during the conflict over the creation of Israel in 1948.

The European Union’s foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini had said that the use of live ammunition by the Israeli military, “in particular”, needed an independent and transparent investigation. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged for a similar investigation, AP reported.