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UNHRC calls for investigation into Israel's deadly use of force against Gaza protesters

May 18, 2018 3:53 P.M. (Updated: May 21, 2018 1:56 P.M.)
GENEVA (Ma'an) -- The UN human rights chief backed calls on Friday for an international investigation into Israel's use of deadly force against Palestinian protesters along the Gaza border, during a special session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein stressed the importance of opening an independent international investigation into Israel’s actions, which left at least 60 Palestinian protesters dead on Monday -- making it the deadliest day in Gaza since Israel's 2014 offensive.

Al-Hussein called the killings “horrific,” and held Israel, as an occupying power, responsible for the welfare of Palestinians living in Gaza, which has suffered from a decade-long land, air, and sea blockade from Israel.

“They are, in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; dehumanised by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest,” al-Hussein said.

He also pointed out that at least 87 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers since March 30, including 12 children, and that more than 12,000 have been injured, 3,500 of which with live ammunition saying that this is a violation of the Human Rights Law and the 4th Geneva Convention.

The Gaza Ministry of Health has reported the death toll since the Great March of Return began to be upwards of 100 Palestinians.

Israel and the US accused the council of “anti-Israel bias,” a common accusation made by the two countries whenever the UN calls for investigations into possibly war crimes or human rights violations made by Israel.

Israel’s ambassador Aviva Raz Shechter said the call for an inquiry was “politically motivated and won’t improve the situation on the ground by even one iota,” and accused Hamas of inciting violence in Gaza.

“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,” she said. “It is Israel, certainly not Hamas, which makes a real effort to minimize casualties among Palestinian civilians.”

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