Israel defense minister vows tough response to Gaza protests

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Israel defense minister vows tough response to Gaza protests
In this Saturday, March 31, 2018 file photo, a Palestinian uses his phone to take photos while a protester slings stones towards Israeli soldiers on the other side of the fence during clashes with Israeli troops along the Gaza Strip border with Israel, east of Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip. The Israeli military's open-fire policies came under more scrutiny as two amateur videos emerged purportedly showing two Palestinians being shot — one killed and one wounded — while not posing any apparent threat to soldiers. The Israeli military accused Hamas on Sunday of releasing videos that were incomplete, edited or "completely fabricated," but did not elaborate. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s defense minister says the military will not change its tough response to Hamas-led mass protests near Gaza’s border with Israel, warning that “anyone who approaches the border is putting their life in danger.”

Avigdor Lieberman spoke Tuesday near Gaza, where 18 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire Friday, the first day of what Hamas says will be six weeks of border protests.

Earlier on Tuesday, the international group Human Rights Watch accused Lieberman and other senior officials of “unlawfully” calling for the use of live fire against Palestinian protesters who posed no imminent threat to life.

Lieberman signaled defiance, saying that “we have established clear ground rules and we do not intend to change them. “

Palestinian health officials say more than 750 Palestinians were wounded by army fire Friday.