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Tuesday 26 March 2019

UN rights body votes for inquiry on deadly Gaza clashes

The Human Rights Council condemned ‘the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians’.

Palestinian protesters run for cover from Israeli troops
Palestinian protesters run for cover from Israeli troops

By Associated Press Reporters

The UN Human Rights Council has voted to set up a commission of inquiry to look into a deadly crackdown on protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces.

Meeting in a special session in Geneva, the council voted 29-2 with 14 abstentions to back a resolution that also condemned “the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians”.

Israel condemned the resolution, which was put forward by a group of countries including Pakistan, and the US said it was an example of a biased focus on Israel by the council.

Both lamented that it did not mention Gaza’s Hamas rulers, blamed by Israel for the violence.

Israeli troops firing into Gaza killed nearly 60 Palestinians at mass border protests on Monday.

The “independent, international commission of inquiry” mandated by the council will be asked to produce a final report next March.

During Friday’s session, the UN’s top human rights official backed calls for an international inquiry and questioned Israel’s assertion that its security forces tried to minimise casualties.

“There is little evidence of any attempt to minimise casualties on Monday,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.

An elderly Palestinian man falls to the ground after being shot by Israeli troops

Some demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, used sling-shots, flew burning kites into Israel, and attempted to use wire-cutters on border fences, but “these actions alone do not appear to constitute the imminent threat to life or deadly injury which could justify the use of lethal force”, added Mr Zeid, a Jordanian prince.

He said: “The stark contrast in casualties on both sides is also suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response.”

Israel and the US have repeatedly accused the 47-member council of anti-Israel bias.

Israeli ambassador Aviva Raz Schechter said Friday’s session and the call for a commission of inquiry “are yet again politically motivated and won’t improve the situation on the ground by even one iota”.

“The unfortunate outcome of Monday’s riots can only be attributed to Hamas’s cynical exploitation of its own population in a violent campaign against Israel,” she said.

“It is regrettable that so many member states allow themselves to be misled by the false narrative of so-called peaceful protests.”

Press Association

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