Palestinian medics and protesters evacuate a wounded youth during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel

(AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Hamas Official Says Most Protestors Killed Were Members Of Militant Group

May 16, 2018 - 11:49 am

JERUSALEM (AP) — A senior Hamas official says the vast majority of protesters killed by Israeli fire during protests on the Gaza border this week were members of the Islamic militant group.

Salah Bardawil says 50 of the nearly 60 protesters killed by Israeli fire were members of the group that rules the Gaza Strip. He spoke in an interview Wednesday to Baladna TV, a private Palestinian news outlet.

The statement could bolster Israeli claims that Hamas has been using weekly mass border protests as cover to stage attacks.

Organizers say the wave of border protests is meant in large part to break a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt when Hamas seized power in 2007.

Since the Hamas-led protests began on March 30, more than 110 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,500 have been wounded by live fire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Palestinian officials say the vast majority of the casualties have been unarmed protesters.