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UNHRC condemns Israel's use of 'lethal force' against Gaza protesters

March 23, 2019 at 1:18 pm

A Palestinian woman waves a Palestinian flag during “Great March of Return” demonstration near Israel-Gaza border, in Khan Yunis, Gaza on March 01, 2019 [Mustafa Hassona / Anadolu Agency]

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) yesterday condemned Israel’s “apparent intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against civilian protesters in the Gaza Strip during the Great March of Return.

In addition to condemning Israel, the UNHRC also called for perpetrators of violations in the besieged enclave to face justice.

On the final day of a four-week session, the UNHRC adopted a resolution on accountability, brought by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Twenty-three states voted in favour of the resolution, while eight voted against and 15 abstained. One delegation was absent.

The resolution called for cooperation with the investigations opened by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2015 into Israeli human rights violations.

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Reuters reported that the UNHRC made the resolution based on a UN report which said that Israel may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by killing 189 Palestinians and wounding more than 6,100 at the Great March of Return protests last year.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Aviva Raz Shechter, said there was “clear evidence of political bias against Israel” in the report, accusing the panel of ignoring “the very real threat” posed to 70,000 Israelis living along the eastern fence of Gaza during the period of inquiry, 30 March – 31 December 2018.

Protests began in March last year, with Gazans demanding Israel ease its 12-year-old blockade of the enclave and recognise their right to return to their lands from which they were forcibly displaced in 1948.

Yesterday the Palestinian Red Crescent said that Israeli forces killed two people and wounded 237 others, including 47 with live bullets, among those taking part in the weekly protests in Gaza.

Read: Gaza prepares for massive demonstration on 30 March