Arabs ask United Nations chief to investigate Gaza killings

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A leading Israel human rights group urged Israeli forces in a rare step Wednesday to disobey open-fire orders unless Gaza protesters pose an imminent threat to soldiers' lives. It released a grainy video showing the armed man walking in the dark.

The Friday rally was the start of a six-week long protest expected to reach its peak on May 15, the day Israel celebrates its establishment.

Hamas has said the protests would culminate in a "March of Return", implying the demonstrators would at some point try cross the border fence into Israeli territory.

"We call on the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and all regional and global powers to do everything possible to prevent a further slide into conflict and bloodshed, to provide humanitarian aid, and to revive the stalled reconstruction of Gaza". But they have stopped short of specifically threatening a mass breach of the border fence.

"In light of this coming Friday's #Gaza march, Israeli forces should exercise maximum restraint and Palestinians should avoid friction at the fence", he wrote on Twitter. The military was on high alert ahead of Friday.

Unless someone steps up to end Gaza's humanitarian disaster, ensure Israel and the Palestinians act with restraint during the protests and set a credible peace process in motion, both sides could face a new catastrophe.

It said soldiers only targeted "instigators" who burned tires or threw stones and firebombs toward the border fence. "Civilians, particularly children, must not be intentionally put in danger or targeted in any way".

At least 18 Palestinians have been killed and over 1,200 others injured since last Friday, when a massive Palestinian protest was launched to mark the Palestinian Land Day along the border between Gaza and Israel. But organisers expect large crowds again on Friday, the Muslim sabbath.

Itamar Marcus, director of the Palestinian Media Watch, told CBN News Hamas wants people to be killed. Families of those killed receive $3,000.

Those with more severe injuries would get $500.

Israel is determined to "prevent Iran from basing itself militarily in Syria", the director of the Jewish state's Intelligence Ministry.

"If there are provocations, there will be a reaction of the harshest kind like last week", Lieberman said on Thursday.

"We have information that tomorrow, under a smoke screen and civilian cover, Hamas intends to carry out terrorist attacks against our civilians and troops, and cross the fence", he said.

Lieberman also met with Israeli military chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot to discuss the situation. "Anyone trying to approach the fence is putting their lives at risk".

The Israeli army regularly detains and opens fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen while sailing off the coast of Gaza. Groups of Israeli doctors, academics, poets, Holocaust survivors, rabbis and pilots also objected to the planned expulsion.

At a minimum, Hamas hopes to draw worldwide attention to Gaza and improve leverage if Egypt brokers a new round of talks with Abbas, the officials said. The last round collapsed last month, in part because Hamas refused to disarm.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars in the Gaza Strip since 2008.