Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday there were "no naive people" in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip after days of protests and clashes left 30 Palestinians dead, including a journalist.
"There are no naive people in the Gaza Strip," Lieberman told Israel’s public radio.
"Everyone’s connected to Hamas, everyone gets a salary from Hamas, and all the activists trying to challenge us and breach the border are Hamas military wing activists."
Mr Lieberman used a Hebrew word that can also be translated as "innocent," as AFP and other news media initially quoted him as saying. His office later insisted that his intended meaning was "naive".
Israel has faced mounting questions over its use of live fire after 10 days of protests and clashes along the Gaza Strip border in which its forces have killed 30 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
Violence spiked again on Friday, when clashes erupted as thousands protested along the border, and nine Palestinians, including a journalist, were killed.
Mr Lieberman seemed to suggest the journalist was using a drone when he was killed, but two people who said they were with him on Friday rejected it.
"We know that in many instances Hamas has used journalists and the media and the Red Crescent and ambulances to carry out terror activities," Mr Lieberman alleged.
"Whoever flies a drone over (Israeli) forces, over our soldiers – we won’t take any chances."
The journalist, Yasser Murtaja, 30, had been known to use a drone for photos and video, but two journalists who were with him said he had not been using it on Friday.
He died after being wounded by Israeli fire on Friday.
Ashraf Abu Amra and Hosam Salem both said he was a couple of hundred metres from the border when he was shot.
"He was using a normal video camera all day," Mr Amra said.
But rights groups have harshly criticised Israeli soldiers’ actions, and Palestinians say protesters are being shot while posing no threat to troops.
Click Here: Cheap Chiefs Rugby Jersey 2019
The European Union and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have called for an independent investigation, which Israel has rejected.
On Saturday, the European Union raised questions over whether Israeli troops engaged in "proportionate use of force".