0606 GMT August 18, 2019
UN human rights experts on Tuesday slammed Israeli forces for killing mostly unarmed Palestinians near the Gaza fence by using firearms, including live ammunition.
UN human rights experts condemned the continued use of firearms, including live ammunition, by Israeli forces against mostly unarmed Palestinian protesters and observers for a third straight week near the Gaza fence.
The United Nations and its independent human rights experts, along with the International Criminal Court, also expressed grave concern about the Israeli forces’ use of force, and called for the violence to stop, OHCHR (the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) reported.
“Despite Israel’s commitment to investigate the events of the past few weeks, security forces continue to use live ammunition and rubber bullets against the protesters, killing and wounding dozens of mostly unarmed protesters, women, men and children alike,” said the UN experts.
”We express our outrage over these shootings that may have resulted in unlawful killings and the incomprehensibly high number of injuries sustained.”
According to the UN, at least 28 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,600 wounded by live ammunition by Israeli forces during a series of demonstrations that began on 30 March and are set to continue until May 15.
But a report by AFP put the death toll at 34 people by Israeli fire since the protests began. There have been no Israeli casualties.
The participants are protesting their forced evictions and displacement since 1948 and calling for an end to the 11-year blockade on Gaza.
Among those killed were three children and a journalist, who was wearing clearly visible insignia identifying him as a member of the press. Six other journalists have so far been wounded, the experts said in the statement.
AFP quoted the Health Ministry in the Palestinian enclave as saying that five Palestinians were injured by Israeli fire along the Gaza fence Wednesday.
The five were injured by Israeli artillery fire east of Khan Yunis, the ministry said.
The experts reiterated Israel’s obligation as occupying power to uphold international human rights law and international humanitarian law, emphasizing that in the context of law enforcement, security forces may only resort to lethal force when faced with a situation involving an imminent threat to life or risk of serious injury.
“No evidence has emerged showing that such a situation occurred during the demonstrations that would make the lethal force used legal,” they added.
They said Israel must fully observe fundamental rights of the freedoms of association, assembly, and expression.
Referring to a recent statement issued by Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda, the experts said that the deadly use of force against demonstrators could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute.
The UN experts also reiterated their call on the international community, through the UN, to establish an independent commission to investigate the events of the past three weeks.
"We call for an immediate end to the 11-year-old comprehensive blockade on Gaza, which is imposing untold suffering on the population," the experts added.