J'lem files UN complaint over Syria border 'provocations'

Israel urges int'l community to warn Syria its actions "carry potential for escalation," UN official calls for probe of IDF's "excessive force."

June 7, 2011 21:59
2 minute read.
Syrians walk toward border near Majdal Shams, Sun.

naksa day clashes_311 reuters. (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)


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Israel on Tuesday filed an official complaint to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon against Syria for its part in Sunday's Naksa Day border violence.

Syrian media reported 23 pro-Palestinian protesters commemorating the beginning of 1967's Six Day War were killed by IDF soldiers on Sunday while attempting to infiltrate Israel. The IDF claims that Syria has intentionally exaggerated the number of dead and the Red Cross has been unable to confirm the figures.

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In the letter of complaint, deputy chief of Israel's delegation to the UN, Haim Waxman, argues that the incident "which could not have taken place without the knowledge of the Syrian authorities — reflects a blatant attempt by Syria to distract international attention from the violent repression of its own people."

The complaint urged the international community to warn Syria that "such provocations carry serious potential for escalation and must cease completely."

Israel's complaint against Syria came as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said 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 Naksa Day.

“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.

“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 Ban Ki-moon's call for maximum restraint on all sides.

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