Jerusalem threatened Saturday to attack “terrorist targets’’ in Gaza, after Israeli gunfire killed 16 Palestinians at massive protests along a border fence a day earlier.
Israeli Gen. Ronen Manelis accused Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, of using the protests as an excuse for launching attacks on Israel. It wasn’t clear whether he meant possible future attacks, or Israel’s claim that demonstrators fired the first shots Friday.
He insisted the bloodshed was not the result of “a protest demonstration,’’ but “organized terrorist activity’’ by Hamas.
Friday was the deadliest day in the conflict between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 Gaza war.
The protest drew tens of thousands of people demanding to be allowed to return to their former homes in what is now Israel.
“This is just the beginning . . . Hamas intends to aggravate the situation further,” Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner said. “We are not looking for an escalation, but we are prepared.”