U.N. official demands Gaza probe after U.S. blocks UNSC investigation

“We urge maximum restraint. Enough is enough,” Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.

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May 15, 2018 15:10
2 minute read.

UN warns of more Gaza violence, condemns Israel's use of force, May 15, 2018 (Reuters)

UN warns of more Gaza violence, condemns Israel's use of force, May 15, 2018 (Reuters)

 
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A United Nations Human Rights official called for an independent probe into the Israeli killing of Palestinian protestors on the Gaza border after the United States squashed a bid for a Security Council investigation.

“We urge maximum restraint. Enough is enough,” Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.

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He spoke in the aftermath of the bloodiest day since the Hamas led protest, dubbed The Great of March Return, began on March 30, with the goal of breaking through the security barrier that separates Israel from Gaza.

Israel has focused on the violent nature of the protest., which has included burning tires, flaming kites launched over the border, stone throwing, molotov cocktails and infiltration attempts.

Palestinians in turn have highlighted the peaceful elements of the march, which has drawn thousands of people from Gaza. The international community, particularly following the deaths of 58 Palestinians on Monday, have charged Israel with disproportional use of force.

“We call for independent, transparent investigations in all cases of death and injury since 30 March. Since 30 March, 112 Palestinians, including 14 children, have lost their lives at the fence and thousands have been injured,” Colville said.

“We stress, again, that lethal force may only be used as a measure of last – not first – resort, and only when there is an immediate threat to life or serious injury.

“An attempt to approach or crossing or damaging the fence do not amount to a threat to life or serious injury and are not sufficient grounds for the use of live ammunition. This is also the case with regards to stones and molotov cocktails being thrown from a distance at well-protected security forces located behind defensive positions,” Colville said.

On Monday, aside from the 58 deaths, 1,360 demonstrators were injured with live ammunition, of whom 155 are in critical condition, Colville said.

“Six children and a health worker were among those who lost their lives, and 10 journalists suffered injuries from gunshot wounds,” Colville said.

He added that because the Gaza health care system is crumbling, there are not enough resources to treat the injured.

We are still witnessing cases in which injured demonstrators are effectively prevented by Israel from exiting Gaza for treatment.

On Monday, the United States blocked a bid by a number of UN Security Council members to condemn Israel and create an independent investigatory committee.

The 15-member UN Security Council is slated to meet on Tuesday to debate the Gaza violence and the US relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki blasted the US for its continued support of Israel on this matter, in a radio interview he did for Voice of Palestine.

His words were reported by the Palestinian new agency WAFA.

“By blocking a Security Council statement that was supposed to condemn Israel and calls for forming an independent investigation committee, the United States has declared itself as protector of Israel as it proceeds with its crimes, which therefore makes it complicit in the Israeli crimes against our people in Gaza,” said Malki.

Malki said that Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan urged President Mahmoud Abbas hold an emergency UN General Assembly session on the issue.

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