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UN Commission ‘nearly finished’ collecting testimonies into Gaza protests

An injured Palestinian is put on a stretcher after Israeli forces fired at Palestinians during the Great March of Return on 30 November 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
An injured Palestinian is put on a stretcher after Israeli forces fired at Palestinians during the Great March of Return on 30 November 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

A United Nations commission into Israel’s crackdown on the “Great Return March” protests in the occupied Gaza Strip has “nearly finished collecting testimonies”, reported Haaretz.

The commission, established by the UN Human Rights Council in May, has already received evidence from Israeli rights groups such as Yesh Din, B’Tselem and legal rights centre Adalah.

At the time, 29 council members backed the establishment of the commission, including Spain and Belgium, while the US and Australia opposed. The Israeli government angrily rejected the resolution, claiming that its success reflected “an automatic anti-Israel majority”.

Attorney Michael Sfard, the legal adviser of Yesh Din, who testified before the commission, told Haaretz that “my testimony was part of Yesh Din’s attempt to stop the illegal and immoral use of live fire against thousands of Gazan demonstrators”.

“I told commission members that Israel takes a position in which there is a special legal area that regulates law enforcement during armed conflict,” Sfard continued, “and which allows live fire at an ‘inciter or a key disrupter of order’ even when there is no risk to anyone’s life by such a person, or no danger of serious injury to civilians or soldiers”.

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“This is an invention that is not anchored in any legal authority, and which has led to the terrible extent of dead and wounded casualties,” the attorney added.

B’Tselem Director-General Hagai El-Ad, meanwhile, said his organisation “gave the commission all the investigative material it has published regarding the illegal and immoral live fire at demonstrators in Gaza.”

For more than 50 years of occupation and countless instances of killings and violence, the systematic whitewashing proves that Israel is incapable – and has no wish – of being held to account for its actions

El-Ad said.

“First there are sloppy investigations by military police, followed by a serial closure of files by the military advocate general, ending with the High Court of Justice, which gives the appearance of decency and ostensible legality to a policy of live fire and the whitewashing of investigations.”

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