Four Palestinians were killed and over 700 injured as Israeli soldiers fired upon them on Friday as they staged a fourth round of weekly protests, Palestine’s Health Ministry said. The incident occurred when over 10,000 people had gathered in Gaza to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees. With this, a total of 32 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops since late March, reported AP.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador at the United Nations, accused the Israeli forces of demonstrating the “cruelty of their occupation machine, responding to the calls of unarmed civilians for freedom and justice with brutal and lethal force”. The Israeli military, on the other hand, claimed that Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by the United States and the United Kingdom, was behind the violent demonstrations. They blamed the agitators for setting tyres on fire to create black smoke, which would block the view of Israeli snipers.

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 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.