HRW demands Israel investigate 'Nakba Day' deaths

Human Rights Watch decries IDF's use of live bullets; says there is no proof that border protesters were armed or fired on troops.

Nakba Day protests_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Nakba Day protests_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
NGO Human Rights Watch, on Friday, called on Israel and the UN to conduct “prompt, thorough, and independent criminal investigations into the killings of protesters by military forces on May 15.”
In a series of clashes between IDF soldiers and Arab protesters on Israel’s northern borders last Sunday, 14 people were killed, supposedly by shots fired by the IDF troops in an effort to hinder a wide scale breach of its borders.
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“Human Rights Watch could not independently confirm the overall number of casualties but spoke to witnesses who saw Israeli fire kill three protesters at the border fence in Lebanon and two protesters in the Golan Heights,” read a statement by the group. “According to the Israeli army, demonstrators threw rocks and injured ten soldiers and three officers at the ‘northern border’ …. Israeli officials have not claimed that any protesters were armed or fired on Israeli troops, or indicated whether they would open any criminal investigations.”
“In a too-familiar pattern, Israeli troops responded to stone-throwing youths with live bullets, with predictably deadly consequences,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The evidence shows a disturbing disregard for protesters’ lives.”
“Because Israeli investigations into alleged serious wrongdoing by its armed forces have a poor record for accountability, the United Nations should monitor any Israeli investigations into the 15 deaths to determine whether they comply with international standards,” Human Rights Watch said. “There needs to be a credible, criminal investigation, and where there is evidence that crimes took place, prosecutions and appropriate punishment.”