UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Tuesday she was deeply troubled by reports of use of live fire by the IDF against protesters attempting to infiltrate Israel's border from Syria on Sunday's Naksa Day, commemorating the anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War.
“Between 30 and 40 protesters have reportedly been killed by Israeli security forces in the past three weeks,” she said, referencing Syrian reports that 23 were killed on Sunday and 14 were killed on May 15 during Nakba Day in skirmishes on both the Lebanese and Syrian frontiers. “The Government of Israel has a duty to ensure that its security personnel avoid the use of excessive force,” Pillay added.
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“However difficult the circumstances, the use of live ammunition against allegedly unarmed protesters, resulting in large numbers of deaths and injuries, inevitably raises the question of unnecessary and excessive use of force,” she stated.
The high commissioner urged Israel to comply with its obligations under
international human rights and international humanitarian law to ensure
the protection of civilians.
Pillay also expressed concern over allegations that civilians were
encouraged by the Syrian authorities to protest in areas where landmines
are located. “Syrian authorities have an obligation to ensure that
civilians are prevented from entering areas where landmines are
planted,” she said.
Especially given conflicting allegations on the use of Molotov cocktails
by protesters and on whether or not all necessary precautions were
taken before the use of live ammunition by security forces, Pillay
called on both sides to carry out independent, impartial, transparent
and thorough investigations into the events of Naksa Day. She also
reminded Israel of its obligation to carry out investigations into the
events surrounding last month's Nakba Day.
"Where there is evidence that crimes were committed, prosecution and appropriate punishment must follow," Pillay added.
The High Commissioner echoed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for maximum restraint on all sides.