UN human rights chief lambastes Israel for Gaza protest killings | Spanlish


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Saturday, May 19, 2018

UN human rights chief lambastes Israel for Gaza protest killings

Getty/Thomas Coex

Getty/Thomas Coex

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN human rights chief, has denounced Israel's deadly response to recent protests in the Gaza Strip, calling Israel’s use of force “wholly disproportionate.”

Zeid supports calls for an international investigation into Israel’s response.

His statements were made during a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Friday. 

"There is little evidence of any attempt to minimize casualties on Monday," Zeid said.

Protestors at the Israel-Gaza border flew burning kites into Israel, used sling-shots and wielded Molotov cocktails. An estimated 60 Palestinians were killed on Monday, and over 2,000 injured — the same day President Donald Trump officially announced that he would move America's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This week was also the seventh consecutive week of border protests, according to BBC; the protests have been named the Great March of Return.

Israeli forces said they responded to "riot dispersal means” on Monday.

“The troops used riot dispersal means to distance the terrorists from the fence, & the terrorists fired at the soldiers,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on Twitter. “The soldiers responded with targeted fire, thwarting a significant shooting attack.”

Zeid added that the border protests, and the devices protestors used, did not warrant the violent response that followed from Israel.

"These actions alone do not appear to constitute the imminent threat to life or deadly injury which could justify the use of lethal force," Zeid said.

Monday marked the deadliest day in Gaza since 2014.  Zeid said the response was “wholly disproportionate.”

"They are, in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death," he said of the Gazans on Friday, adding the occupation must come to an end.

Israel defended its forces, and denounced Zeid’s statement. Indeed, UN ambassador Aviva Raz Shechter called his comments "politically motivated.”

"The loss of life could have been avoided had Hamas refrained from sending terrorists to attack Israel under the cover of the riots, while exploiting its own civilian population as human shields,” Shechter said.

U.S. chargé d’affaires Theodore Allegra said the Humans Rights Council was ignoring Hamas, whom Israel and the United States believe is to blame.

“The one-sided action proposed by the council today only further shows that the Human Rights Council is indeed a broken body,” he said, suggesting there is an anti-Israel attitude in the Council.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the use of Israeli forces in a statement on Twitter earlier this week.

"The Hamas terrorist organization declares it intends to destroy Israel and sends thousands to breach the border fence in order to achieve this goal," Netanyahu said. "We will continue to act with determination to protect our sovereignty and citizens."

The White House supported Netanyahu's defense. On Monday, deputy press secretary Raj Shah said that Hamas was responsible for the deaths.

“We believe that Hamas is responsible for these tragic deaths, that their rather cynical exploitation of the situation is what’s leading to these deaths, and we want them to stop,” Shah said.

Source: UN human rights chief lambastes Israel for Gaza protest killings

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