TEHRAN (Press Shia) – France urged Israel on Sunday to show restraint following its military response to Palestinian demonstrations on the Gaza-Israel border that killed at least 15.

“France reminds the Israeli authorities of their duty to protect civilians and urges them to show the greatest restraint,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said in a statement, Reuters reported.

“France also highlights the Palestinians’ right to peacefully demonstrate,” she added.

On Friday, at least 17 Palestinians lost their lives and more than 1,400 others sustained injuries when Israeli military forces opened fire on thousands of protesters who had flocked to a sit-in near the Gaza border.

Meanwhile, Israel’s defense minister rejected calls for an independent investigation by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, and other leaders.

The Palestinian rally, dubbed the "Great March of Return," will last until May 15, which coincides with the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe) on which Israel was created. 

Every year on May 15, Palestinians all over the world hold demonstrations to commemorate Nakba Day, which marks the anniversary of the forcible eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland by Israelis in 1948.

More than 760,000 Palestinians – now estimated to number nearly five million with their descendants – were driven out of their homes on May 14, 1948.