(CNSNews.com) -- The liberal human rights organization Amnesty International criticized the Israeli military's use of "live ammunition" against Palestinians who had gathered at different spots along the Gaza border to protest the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on May 14. Reportedly, at least 52 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,000 wounded in the confrontations.
"This is another horrific example of the Israeli military using excessive force and live ammunition in a totally deplorable way," said Philip Luther, the research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty Internaitonal (AI).
"This is a violation of international standards, in some instances committing what appear to be wilful killings constituting war crimes," said Luther in a statement. "Today's footage from Gaza is extremely troubling, and as violence continues to spiral out of control, the Israeli authorities must immediately rein in the military to prevent the further loss of life and serious injuries."
"While some protestors may have engaged in some form of violence, this still does not justify the use of live ammunition," said Luther. "Under international law, firearms can only be used to protect against an imminent threat of death or serious injury."
According to news reports, about 35,000 Palestinians gathered to protest at 13 different locations along the Israeli border with Gaza, where there runs a heavily fortified security fence and other barriers.
Palestinians were protesting the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and, as Fox News reported, engaging in an ongoing Hamas-led campaign called the "Great March of Return," to "break the decade-old border blockade of the territory imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007."
Protesters have been throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails, and incendiary kites across the security fence at Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) for the last six weeks.
In a statement, Israeli officials said, "The IDF is determined to prevent massive terror activities constantly being led by the Hamas terror organization.... Each act of terror will be met with a harsh response."
In a tweet, IDF Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said, "This is what we are defending. Terrorist #Hamas is trying to breach through our defences and attack our civilians."
Cornicus also said, according to the Associated Press, that the security fence had been "massively reinforced" and that "even if the fence is breached, we will be able to protect Israeli civilians from attempts to massacre or kidnap or kill them."