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UN Experts Urge Israel to Rein in Security Forces

UN Experts Urge Israel to Rein in Security Forces

Monday, 18 March, 2019 - 18:15
Santiago Canton (R) Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 protests in the Palestinian at the Human Rights Council session at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, March 18, 2019. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
UN war crimes investigators called on Israel on Monday to stop its snipers using lethal force against protesters on the border with Gaza, as the anniversary approached of the start of demonstrations there last year in which 189 Palestinians were killed.

The Commission of Inquiry said Israel should investigate the shooting of more than 6,000 people, far beyond the criminal inquiries it has announced into 11 killings.

“The most important thing for the government of Israel is to review the rules of engagement immediately and to ensure that the rules of engagement are according to accepted international law standards,” the commission’s chairman Santiago Canton told the Human Rights Council, according to Reuters.

Israel says the UN council is biased, and it boycotted the day-long debate, while hundreds of Israel supporters rallied outside the United Nations in Geneva, including senior US officials.

Canton said Israel’s Supreme Court should review the confidential rules governing lethal force after the panel found it had been “in the majority of cases authorized unlawfully”.

“In a situation of crowd control, which is the way we see these demonstrations, rubber bullets could have been used,” Canton told reporters, rather than “high velocity bullets and long-range sniper rifles equipped with sophisticated optical aiming devices”.

Large crowds were expected to mark the anniversary of the start of the Gaza demonstrations on March 30, he said.

The protesters were demanding that Israel ease its blockade of Gaza and recognize their right to return to lands their families lost when Israel was founded in 1948.

Israel has said its forces opened fire to protect the border from incursions and attacks by armed militants.

The commission’s preliminary report said last month that Israeli security forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in its response.

Canton said the independent experts were sending their confidential list of suspected perpetrators to UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, for forwarding to the International Criminal Court, which opened a preliminary examination of alleged Israeli abuses in 2015.

Israel did not attend the debate.

Israel’s main ally, the United States, quit the 47-member UN Human Rights Council last year, also accusing it of an anti-Israel slant.

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