Tuesday is the 70th anniversary of what the Palestinians call the "nakba," or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands of people were uprooted during Israel's creation in 1948. It was also due to be the culmination of seven weeks of demonstrations near the fence between Gaza and Israel.
But Khaled Batsh, the head of the grass-roots organizing committee behind the protests, told The Associated Press that the "day of the catastrophe" would instead be set aside for funerals and a general strike.
Throughout Gaza, mourners waved Palestinian flags and called for revenge. "With souls and blood we redeem you martyrs," they shouted.
Among those buried was 8-month-old Layla al-Ghandour, who inhaled tear gas at a tented protest encampment. "Let her stay with me. It is too early for her to go," her mother cried, pressing the baby's body to her chest.
The violence Monday also left 2,771 Palestinians wounded, including more than 300 women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Tens of thousands have rallied in recent weeks near the fence, demanding that Israels allow the millions of Palestinians whose families left or were forcibly removed from Israel at its founding to return. Refugees and their descendants make up more than two-thirds of Gaza’s population.
"It is unbearable to witness such a massive number of unarmed people being shot in such a short time."
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A total of 109 people have been killed and around 12,300 others wounded since the protests began on March 30, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.
On Monday, Israeli troops opened fire on protesters approaching the fence. The military accused the militant group Hamas — which has ruled Gaza since it won elections in 2006 — of "leading a terrorist operation under the cover of masses of people." Israel said its forces were defending the border. It said that 24 protesters with "a documented terror background" were among Monday's dead.
The White House blamed Hamas for the deaths, but the United Nations agency in Gaza expressed “dismay” at “the excessive use of force” against demonstrators.
Turkey ordered the Israeli ambassador to Ankara to return to Israel, Reuters reported; it has already recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Tel Aviv.
Doctors Without Borders compared the scale of the bloodshed with the 2014 war.
Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, the aid group's representative in the Palestinian territories, said: "It is unbearable to witness such a massive number of unarmed people being shot in such a short time. ... This bloodbath is the continuation of the Israeli army’s policy during the last seven weeks: shooting with live ammunition at demonstrators, on the assumption that anyone approaching the separation fence is a legitimate target."
She added that most the wounded would "suffer lifelong injuries."
Doctors Without Borders say more than 90% of the injured from yesterday's #GreatMarchOfReturn protests were shot in the legs. That means thousands of patients will rely on prosthesis and continued care from #Gaza's beleaguered, blockaded medical system for decades. #Israel
On Tuesday, the Israeli military said its aircraft had struck 11 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, while tanks targeted another two Hamas posts.
Clashes also erupted in the West Bank. In Ramallah, Palestinian protesters — some armed with slingshots — threw stones toward Israeli soldiers and set fire to tires, creating smokescreens that allowed them to advance. In response, Israeli forces used canisters of tear gas, including some dropped by drones, to regain ground.
Israel built the 40-mile Gaza fence for security reasons in 1994 and it is eager to prevent a massive breach of the barrier and potential attacks in communities on the other side. Palestinians have been warned to keep well away.
The IDF will continue to prevent mass terror attacks, which have largely been orchestrated by the Hamas terror organization. All terror activity will be met with a harsh response. IDF troops will continue to defend Israel & its civilians
Most of the protesters have tended to stay around the tent camps, but groups of youths have ventured closer to the fence to roll burning tires and throw stones. Some have flown kites carrying containers of gasoline that have spread fires on the Israeli side.
Marchers say they have continued to turn out for the demonstrations because they have so little to lose. More than a decade under Israeli and then Egyptian blockades has left the enclave's 2 million people, particularly its youth, largely jobless and hopeless.
In Gaza, fresh water is unsanitary and the seas are polluted with raw sewage. Power lasts as little as four hours a day while medical care and education are abysmal.
“Shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire in #Gaza must stop now. The right to life must be respected. Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account. The int'l community needs to ensure justice for victims” – #Zeid. pic.twitter.com/hBb7825Sp8