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Thousands of people, led by Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, are taking part in the funeral of Hamas engineer Fadi al-Batsh in northern Gaza.

Al-Batsh, an electrical engineering lecturer in Malaysia, was killed last week by two assailants on a motorcycle as he was walking to a mosque in Kuala Lumpur. He accused Hamas of orchestrating a surge toward the fence and said it was unusual in how quick and coordinated it was.

B'Tselem's El-Ad stressed that "extensive past experience clearly demonstrates that the recently announced Israeli "investigation" of some of these fatalities is nothing more than a whitewash mechanism", and "part of a fa├žade created to give the impression that Israel is abiding by its legal obligation to investigate".

Israel and the United States share a common enemy in the political leadership of Gaza: Hamas.

Israel has a long history of assassinating wanted militants, though it rarely acknowledges responsibility.

But on Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel did not do it. Already two days ago, the director of hospitals in Gaza, Abdul Latif al-Haj, told the Chinese news agency Xinhua that "medicines at hospital stocks could run out within a few days due to the high number of injuries we received". "Ask James Bond", he added. Anticipating yesterday's attack, he declared, "Israel has an obligation to protect our citizens, and we will do so while minimizing civilian casualties to the other side, but let me be clear: Israel will never apologize for defending our country".

"We will not leave a stone unturned". "The day of punishment is coming".

Israel and Egypt imposed the Gaza blockade in 2007, in response to a violent takeover of the territory by Hamas, which had won Palestinian parliament elections a year earlier.

His remarks came as the Israeli forces used firearms against the most aggressive protesters, something that Tel Aviv attributed to the need to protect the state border.

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"For four weeks the world has watched in horror as Israeli snipers and other soldiers, in full protective gear and behind the fence, have attacked Palestinian protesters with live ammunition and tear gas", the human rights organisation said in a statement.

Hundreds of Palestinian protesters have gathered next to the fence along the Israeli border east of Gaza City.

Ahmed Abu Hussein, 24, died Wednesday at an Israeli hospital, almost two weeks after he was shot on April 13.

Amateur video taken at the time shows him wearing a blue vest and helmet with the word "TV" on it.

Witnesses said Palestinian demonstrators threw stones at the Israeli forces, and the soldiers responded with teargas shells and rubber-coated bullets.

During the weekly demonstrations so far, 35 protesters, including two journalists, have been killed by Israeli live fire.

Since the border rallies began on March 30, at least 44 Palestinian protesters - including five children - have been killed by cross-border Israeli gunfire, according to ministry figures. It said 17 lost legs and four lost fingers or parts of their upper limbs. He said Israel would not tolerate Hamas attempts "to use civilians as human shields and as a disguise for terrorists trying to infiltrate into Israel".

The recent deadly attack on Palestinian protesters came just hours after the United Nations human rights chief criticized Tel Aviv for using "excessive force" against demonstrators.