Israel 'calculated' massacre of unarmed Palestinian protesters, says watchdog
HRW released a report on Tuesday, accusing senior Israeli officials of green-lighting the use of live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators last week.
"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, HRW deputy Middle East director.
"The result was foreseeable deaths and injuries of demonstrators on the other side of a border who posed no imminent threat to life," he added.
The watchdog called on the International Criminal Court to open an independent investigation into the bloody incident, which was the deadliest day since the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas.
Live fire – along with rubber bullets and tear gas – were used by Israeli troops and left 17 Palestinian protesters dead and thousands more wounded, at the demonstration on the Gaza border on Friday.
On Tuesday, Israeli forces shot dead another protesting Palestinian on the Gaza border, raising the death toll to 18.
Israel has defended its soldiers' actions, saying they opened fire only when necessary against those throwing stones and firebombs or rolling tyres at soldiers.
It said there were attempts to damage the fence and infiltrate Israel, while alleging there was also an attempted gun attack against soldiers along the border.
Israel's use of live fire had led to the European Union and UN chief Antonio Guterres calling for an independent investigation.
Palestinians say protesters were fired on while posing no threat to soldiers.
Hamas has said that the Israeli troops "intentionally killed or caused major disabilities" to protesters during the Land Day march.
Israel's defence minister said on Tuesday that the military will not change its response to the mass protests, warning that those who approach the border are putting their lives at risk.