Tens of thousands of Palestinians, pressing for a right of return for refugees to what is now Israel, gathered along the fenced 65-km (40-mile) frontier where tents were erected for a planned six-week protest, local officials said. The Israeli military estimate was 30,000.
Families brought their children to the encampments just a few hundred metres from the Israeli security barrier with the Hamas Islamist-run enclave, and football fields were marked in the sand and scout bands played.
But as the day wore on, hundreds of Palestinian youths ignored calls from the organisers and the Israeli military to stay away from the frontier, where Israeli soldiers across the border kept watch from dirt mound embankments.
The military said its troops had used live fire only against people trying to sabotage the border security fence, some of them rolling burning tyres and throwing rocks, and that at least two of the dead were Hamas operatives.
Palestinian health officials said Israeli forces used mostly gunfire against the protesters, in addition to tear gas and rubber bullets. Witnesses said the military had deployed a drone…