A senior member of Gaza's rulers Hamas said Wednesday that most of the 62 Gazas killed by
Israeli fire during border protests and clashes this week were members of the Islamist group.
Salah Bardawil did not give further details about whether they were members of the group's armed or political wing, or what they were doing at the time they were killed.
"Fifty of the martyrs were Hamas and 12 from the people," he told a Gazan television show. "How can Hamas reap the fruits if it pays such an expensive price?"
Questioned about the figures by the presenter, Bardawil said they were "official numbers".
Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoum did not confirm all 50 were members of the Islamist movement.
He told AFP Hamas paid for the funerals for all 50 "whether they are members or supporters of Hamas, or unrelated to the factions."
Bassem Naim, another senior Hamas official, declined to confirm or deny the number but said it was a "large movement and has great popular support".
It was "natural to see members or supporters of Hamas in large numbers" in such a protest, he said, adding that when they were killed they were "participating peacefully" in demonstrations.
Israel has received criticism for the number of rioters killed during attempts to storm the border fence Monday. US Senators Dianne Feinstein and Bernie Sanders accused Israel of using excessive force. Senator Sanders also accused the IDF of killing innocent people.
Israel and the United States have maintained that the IDF acted with restraint at the Gaza border when faced with attempts to storm the border and attacks. At various points during the riots, IDF soldiers were attacked with guns and various explosives, including grenades, pipe bombs, and firebombs.
Bardawil's statement was highlighted by the Israeli army, which has long argued that Hamas is seeking to use weeks of border protests as cover to carry out attacks.
"Take his word for it. This was no peaceful protest," Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said on Twitter.
In addition to the 50 'martyrs' claimed by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization claimed that three of its members were among those killed on Monday.