Palestinians grieve en masse after 17 killed in violent Gaza clashes (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Thousands of Palestinians have poured onto the streets of Rafah, Gaza and Khan Younis to mourn those killed in clashes with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

Palestinian cities and refugee camps were united in their grief after 17 civilians died during ‘Great Return’ demonstrations along the Israeli-Palestine border. The incident has prompted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to call for an “independent and transparent” investigation into the violence and the use of military weaponry.

On Friday, Israeli troops clashed with Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip, using live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds from border fences.

Violence erupted as thousands of Palestinians undertook a march to mark Land Day, a historical show of opposition towards Israeli settlement in the region. Funerals for victims Ibrahim Abu Shahair, Jihad Abu Jamous, Hamdan Abu Amshah and Abdel Qader al-Hawabat took place on Saturday, according to the Palestinian Press Agency.

A day earlier, a massive crowd turned out as Palestinian farmer Omar Samour was laid to rest in Gaza. The 31-year-old farmer was killed by Israeli shelling on Friday, reported AFP.

Outside of the Gaza Strip in the West Bank city of Nablus, mourners paraded with Palestinian flags from Al-Haj Nimr Al-Nabulsi mosque to a place called Martyrs Square. Tensions remain high in the area, with Reuters reporting further shots being fired along the border again on Saturday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israeli troops for Friday’s killings and declared Saturday a national day of mourning.

However, Israeli authorities have said the weekend’s violence was caused by Hamas infiltrating protests and encouraging rioting.

“Hamas is the terrorist organization that controls Gaza with an iron fist. Hamas sent over 30,000 Palestinians to violently riot along our border, hurling burning tires, throwing Molotov cocktails and attempting to harm or destroy Israeli’s security structure,” said IDF Major Keren Hajioff.

“Our soldiers precisely targeted the specific terrorists that attempted to carry out these acts of terror… Sadly, Hamas chose to continue their tradition of using innocent civilians as tools of terror.”

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