Israeli army deletes tweet admitting killing Palestinian protesters
The Israeli military admitted on Saturday to killing 16 Palestinian protesters who were taking part in a peaceful demonstration along the Gaza-Israel border, but later deleted the statement.
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The official Twitter account of the Israeli military posted a tweet stating the brutal tactics unleashed on unarmed protesters a day earlier were "measured and calculated", even suggesting it "knew where every bullet landed".
But the admission was quickly deleted from the @IDFSpokesperson Twitter account, which had let loose a tirade of tweets defending - what some have described as a massacre - of peaceful protesters in the besieged enclave.
"Israeli army takes full responsibility for the killing of all unarmed protesters and the injuring of hundreds with live ammunition," Sarit Michaeli, of human rights group B'Tselem said in response to the tweet.
Israel has been widely criticised across the world for its disproportionate use of force on Friday, in what was the largest escalation since the 2014 war on Gaza.
Israel's targeting of Palestinians in the besieged enclave was a reaction to peaceful Land Day protests which took place along the Israel-Gaza border.
The Great Return March began on Friday and included cultural events such as traditional Palestinian dabka dancing for the thousands of families, women and children attending.
The Israeli military said on Thursday it had deployed dozens of snipers on the border in preparation, with chief of staff Lieutenant-General Gadi Eizenkot Eizenkot telling the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, "if lives are in jeopardy, there is permission to open fire".
The army said on Friday thousands participated and that troops opened fire at the "main instigators" of the stone-throwing - but the casualty list disputes that version of events.
Video footage shared on social media shows Palestinians who were running away from the border fence being shot from behind.
One video apparently shows a man being shot and injured as he prayed with a group of Palestinians.
Some 1,600 Palestinians were wounded, Gaza's health ministry said, over 700 of them by live bullets and the remainder by rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas inhalation.
The march is specifically important to 1.3 million of the besieged enclave's population population because they are families of refugees who fled to Gaza during the mass expulsion of Palestinians during Israel's establishment in 1948.
The 1.3 million refugees, known as Muhajereen in Palestine, comprise a large portion of Gaza's overall 1.9 million population.