rights group: is­raeli force may be war crime

The Republican Herald - - NATION/WORLD -

JERUSALEM (AP) — Hu­man Rights Watch said Wed­nes­day that Is­rael’s use of lethal force against Pales­tinian demon­stra­tors in the Gaza Strip in re­cent weeks may con­sti­tute war crimes.

The state­ment was is­sued Wed­nes­day ahead of an emer­gency U.N. Gen­eral As­sem­bly meet­ing to vote on a res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Is­rael’s “ex­ces­sive use of force.” A sim­i­lar Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion was ve­toed ear­lier this month by the United States for be­ing “fun­da­men­tally im­bal­anced” and “grossly onesided,” U.S. Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley said.

Pales­tini­ans have held near weekly protests since March 30, call­ing for a “right of re­turn” to an­ces­tral homes now in Is­rael. At least 120 Pales­tini­ans have been killed and more than 3,800 wounded by Is­raeli fire in protests along the border. The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of the dead and wounded have been un­armed, ac­cord­ing to Gaza health of­fi­cials.

The Is­raeli mil­i­tary has said its sol­diers ad­here to the rules of en­gage­ment to de­fend Is­raeli civil­ians and se­cu­rity in­fra­struc­ture from at­tacks cloaked by the protests.

Hu­man Rights Watch con­tended in its state­ment that the mostly un­armed protesters didn’t pose an im­mi­nent threat to Is­raeli troops or civil­ians, and there­fore the use of live fire sug­gests a vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional law. The or­ga­ni­za­tion said eye­wit­nesses re­counted Pales­tini­ans were shot from a great dis­tance from the fence, and oth­ers who “had not thrown stones or other­wise tried to harm Is­raeli sol­diers” were shot from a closer range.

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