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Thousands of Palestinians amassed near the border for the March of Return, in which the ultimate goal is to cross the border fence into land that became Israel seven decades ago.

Israel's Defence Minister yesterday rejected calls for an inquiry into the killing of 16 Palestinians by the military during a Palestinian demonstration that turned violent on Friday at the Gaza-Israel border. The militant group Islamic Jihad said the man had been a member.

The European Union and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres have called for an independent investigation into the violence, but Israel has rejected any such probe.

It was the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 cross-border war between Israel and Hamas. The goal of the protest is to secure the "return" to Israel of the descendants of the 750,000 Arab refugees of the 1948 War of Independence.

His mother, 39, said all nine of her children took part in the main protest - attended by tens of thousands - but Ali chose to go closer to the fence than the rest.

Near the Erez crossing into Israel, a few dozen young men sat around while others erected new tents.

The military's open-fire policies came under more scrutiny as amateur videos emerged purportedly showing two Palestinians being shot - one killed and one wounded - while not posing any apparent immediate threat to soldiers.

Israel accuses Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza and with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, of using the protest as cover to carry out violence.

The Palestinian death toll from Israel's deadly response to peaceful protests last week rose to 18 Monday, as Gazans prepared for another day of mass protests Friday.

The armed wing of Hamas said five of those killed were its members who were participating "in popular events side-by-side with their people".

The Israeli military also released a statement on Saturday saying, "At least 10 known terrorists with documented terror backgrounds" were killed.

There were no casualties among Israelis.

Video footage posted on social media, which could not be independently verified, appeared to show unarmed protesters being shot in the back or while praying. The Palestinians staged the protest to stress on their right of return to their occupied land, and six weeks ahead of a planned transfer of U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv into Al-Quds (Jerusalem).

The magnitude of the demonstration this year highlights the Palestinian anger at US President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem al-Quds as the so-called capital of Israel and his decision to move the American embassy there.

The Palestinian protest action that started on Friday is planned to continue through May 15 - which is called Nakba (Catastrophe) Day by Palestinians. The city comprises territory internationally recognized as occupied, and is also home to the al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the most revered Muslim holy sites.