TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Those Israeli officials who unlawfully called for use of live ammunition against peaceful Palestinian demonstrations bear responsibility for the killings of them in Gaza, Human Rights Watch said.

“Israeli soldiers were not merely using excessive force, but were apparently acting on orders that all but ensured a bloody military response to the Palestinian demonstrations,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, the official website of HRW reported.

“The result was foreseeable deaths and injuries of demonstrators on the other side of a border who posed no imminent threat to life,” HRW said in its report.

The killings highlight the importance of the International Criminal Court prosecutor opening a formal investigation into serious international crimes in Palestine, Human Rights Watch said.

On Friday, Gazans marched to the fence with the occupied lands at the start of a six-week protest, dubbed “The Great March of Return,” demanding the right to return for Palestinians driven out of their homeland.

The rallies coincided with the 42nd anniversary of Land Day, which commemorates the murder of six Palestinians by Israeli forces in 1976.

Friday’s demonstrations turned violent after Israeli forces used tear gas and live fire against the Palestinians, killing 18 and injuring almost 1,500 Gazans.

The Return rallies culminate on May 15, the day Palestinians commemorate Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe) when hundreds of thousands fled or were driven out of their homes in 1948, the year Israel was created.

The HRW added that footage of the Gaza demonstrations includes no evidence of protesters using firearms, questioning the Israeli claim that the number of Palestinians injured by live ammunition was likely in the dozens.

The rights group further reviewed a video showing a demonstrator shot in the leg while praying and another while throwing a rock. Other videos show demonstrators were shot while slowly walking toward the Gaza fence empty-handed.

It emphasized that entering a zone declared off limits should not be a crime considered punishable by death.

The rights group further said that the Israeli military appears to be trying to justify its unlawful killings in Gaza, citing remarks by army spokesmen General Major General Yoav Mordechai and General Ronen Manelis.