PALESTINIANS buried their dead yesterday as international condemnation continued over the mass killings of protesters.

According to reports from Gaza, tear gas deployments persisted at the border as Israel repeated claims that the area’s ruling Hamas group was to blame for the deaths.

The Israeli foreign ministry said its armed forces were defending the people “against terrorists, not protesters”, tweeting: “If there were no Hamas march on the border, no Hamas campaign of confrontation, there’d be no loss of life. Simple as that.”

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The Israeli Defence Forces also claimed soldiers had thwarted a “significant shooting attack” by opening fire.

As many as 58 people were killed, with more than 2700 wounded. The Gaza Health Ministry said 1360 of these had been struck by gunfire and 130 were in a serious or critical condition.

Eight of the dead are understood to be under the age of 18 and the ministry named eight-month-old Laila Anwar al-Ghandour as the youngest fatality. The baby is said to have died of tear gas inhalation.

The killings took place just a few miles from the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem after it was moved from Tel Aviv, and the demonstrations marked the eve of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel.

Palestinians refer to the event as the “Nakba”, meaning catastrophe, as a result of the displacement that occurred. Yesterday a general strike was observed to mourn the dead.

Meanwhile, the diplomatic backlash against Israel grew, with the country’s ambassador expelled from Turkey and with China calling on Israel to use restraint.

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The South African ambassador has been recalled from the country and the Belgian prime minister Charles Michel said that Israel had committed acts of “unacceptable violence” with a “clear lack of proportionality”.

German spokesman Steffen Seibert said the violence “concerns us greatly”, but also accused Hamas of escalating the unrest.

Last night the UN Security Council met in New York to discuss the situation. The emergency session was called by Kuwait.