TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Israel’s military ruled out the unlawful use of force against unarmed Palestinians during mass protests in Gaza last week, as the Palestinian death toll rose to 18.

Israeli troops prevented a mass breach of the border fence to “drag us into a catastrophe,” claimed Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, an Israeli army spokesman, AP reported.

He denied soldiers acted unlawfully, but said some mistakes might have been made and would be investigated.

Israel’s defense minister had previously rejected international calls for an independent investigation.

The issues with respect to use of excessive force and unlawful shootings were prompted after a video emerged recently showing one Palestinian being fatally shot from behind while carrying a tire as he ran from the border area.

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.