Death Toll at Gaza Protests Continues to Rise as Israel Rejects Calls for Investigation Into 'Massacres'

The death toll from protests in Gaza last week rose to 18 on Monday, according to the Associated Press. Israeli border guards fired into crowds of Palestinian protesters, injuring hundreds in addition to those killed, at the start of demonstrations that are planned to last six weeks.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for an investigation into the incident, though Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour called for the Security Council to issue a full-throated condemnation of the "heinous massacres."

The protests were organized in support of the right to return for refugees who were forced to leave Israel.

Israel has rejected calls for an investigation, saying the thousands of protesters were throwing rocks and rolling throwing firebombs. 

Dismissing the need for an investigation smacks of guilt on Israel's part. There may be truth to the claim that the protesters engaged in some violent tactics, but the one-sided nature of the casualty reports suggests that the Israeli troops' response was wildly disproportionate.

Video evidence further undermines Israel's claims to innocence. One video shows the 19-year-old Abdul Fattah Abdul Nabi getting shot as he runs away from the border. Another video appears to show a protester being shot apparently while he is in the middle of prayer.

Israel claims these videos are misleading or even faked. But multiple videos show the same events from different angles, as the Washington Post reported.

Figuring out exactly what happened in the videos—and why so many Palestinians ended up dead—should be a part of the investigation, not a conclusion the Israeli government makes in advance. 

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