UN urges Israel to 'exercise extreme caution' as fresh Gaza protests get under way

There have been reports of clashes at the Israel-Gaza border today

UN urges Israel to 'exercise extreme caution' as fresh Gaza protests get under way

A picture taken from the Israeli side of the Israeli Gaza borders shows smoke rising from burning tires as Palestinians march to the border area, near Nahal Oz. Picture by: Ilia Yefimovich/DPA/PA Images

The UN chief has urged Israel to 'exercise extreme caution' with the use of force in Gaza.

The warning came ahead of fresh protests at the Israel-Gaza border, a week after more than a dozen Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces during a day of protest.

There are already reports of clashes today, with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) accusing Palestinian demonstrators of "rioting in five locations along the Gaza-Israel border".

BBC reports that three people were shot in the legs by Israeli military as demonstrators burned car tyres and threw stones.

Photos showed demonstrators running from tear gas fired by Israeli forces.

Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel. Picture by: Khalil Hamra/AP/Press Association Images

In a statement ahead of today's protests, UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres said: "I call upon all parties on the ground to avoid confrontation and exercise maximum restraint. I particularly urge Israel to exercise extreme caution with the use of force in order to avoid casualties. Civilians must be able to exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully.

"I again stress the urgency to accelerate efforts to return to meaningful negotiations that will eventually allow Palestinians and Israelis to live in two democratic states side by side in peace and within secure and recognised," he added.

Palestinians are now into the second week of a six-week long period of demonstrations in support of refugees expelled from their homes.

Organisers of the 'March of Return' - including Hamas - have called for peaceful protests, with large crowds taking part in the demonstrations.

The protests began on March 30th to mark Land Day - a day of commemoration to mark the deaths in Israel of six unarmed Arab protesters in 1976.

Demonstrations are set to end on May 15th, when Palestinians commemorate the anniversary of the creation of Israel (known by Palestinians as the 'Nakba' or 'catastrophe').

17 Palestinians are reported to have been killed during last week's border demonstrations.