Rights groups take aim

The New Zealand Herald - - World - Love­day Mor­ris and Ruth Eglash

Four­teen-year-old Wisal Sheikh Khalil had wire cut­ters out and was try­ing to break through Gaza’s bound­ary fence into Is­rael when she was shot dead by Is­raeli soldiers on Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to her younger brother, who was with her at the time.

She was one of at least 60 Pales­tini­ans whom lo­cal health of­fi­cials say were killed by Is­raeli troops dur­ing protests this week along the fence.

Is­rael’s sharp­shoot­ers, look­ing down from their nests on mounds of earth on the other side of the fence, have been per­mit­ted to use lethal force against those “en­dan­ger­ing” the bar­rier, Is­raeli mil­i­tary of­fi­cials say. Th­ese of­fi­cials also say Is­raeli soldiers have been al­lowed to use live am­mu­ni­tion to shoot “in­sti­ga­tors” among “ri­ot­ers” on the bor­der.

In both cases, the or­ders are to aim for the legs, they say, though Khalil was shot in the head.

The Is­raeli mil­i­tary de­clines to give much more de­tail about its rules of en­gage­ment, say­ing they are clas­si­fied. But hu­man rights groups say the few de­tails pro­vided by the Is­raeli mil­i­tary make clear that the or­ders given to soldiers are il­le­gal.

Th­ese groups ac­cuse the Is­raeli mil­i­tary of not mak­ing enough ef­fort to use other means of dis­pers­ing crowds.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials say the soldiers are op­er­at­ing within in­ter­na­tional law against a mob led by the mil­i­tant group Ha­mas that wants to break into Is­rael and carry out ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

About 1360 Pales­tini­ans were shot over the course of about eight hours on Tues­day, said the Pales­tinian Health Min­istry in Gaza. All the dead were shot on the Pales­tinian side of the fence, and the bor­der fence, though dam­aged, was never breached. No Is­raeli soldiers were re­ported in­jured.

Is­rael has drawn broad in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism for al­legedly us­ing ex­ces­sive force, fac­ing ques­tions about why protests by mostly un­armed Pales­tini­ans ended in such hor­rific blood­shed. Im­ages and eye­wit­ness ac­counts from the demon­stra­tions ap­pear at odds with Is­rael’s in­sis­tence that its mil­i­tary re­sponse has been pre­cise, care­fully cal­i­brated and in­tended to kill only as a last re­sort.

“Cut­ting or at­tack­ing the fence is an of­fence,” said Michael Sfard, an Is­raeli hu­man rights lawyer. “It has to be coun­tered, but coun­tered with rea­son­able force. There is no me­ter

The hole in the ozone above Antarc­tica be­gan to shrink af­ter the pro­duc­tion

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