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HUMAN rights group B’Tselem warned of a whitewash today as it claimed Israeli promises to investigate 11 killings in Gaza last year were “mere propaganda” to appease the international community.
The group slammed Israel’s unlawful open-fire regulations toward Palestinians demonstrating near the illegally constructed Gaza perimeter fence which allows soldiers to shoot live rounds at unarmed protesters.
The UN Human Rights Council met today to discuss the findings of the UN commission of inquiry into the 2018 Gaza Great March of Return protests – during which at least 183 were killed and 23,000 injured.
Its short report released on March 5 found “the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces against demonstrators was unlawful” in all the cases it investigated – all 189 fatalities and over 300 of the 23,000 injuries.
Critically it found “reasonable grounds to believe that some violations constitute international crimes,” including potential war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Commissioner Sara Hossein said while presenting today’s report: “They saw the target magnified in their sight and they knew the consequences of shooting but still pulled the trigger not once or twice but more than 6,000 times.
“The snipers killed 32 children, three clearly marked paramedics, and two clearly marked journalists. They shot at unarmed protesters, children and disabled persons, and at health workers and journalists performing their duties, knowing who they were.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry condemned the report, tweeting: “Instead of condemning Hamas as the prime source of violence and instability in Gaza UNHCR is blaming the victims of Hamas terrorism for acting in self-defence.”
However B’Tselem urged the UN to reject “the tapestry of lies Israel has woven while killing more unarmed protesters.”
Tel Aviv is investigating just 11 incidents in which protesters were killed, which B’Tselem claimed was aimed at relieving pressure on Israel following an international outcry over the shootings.
However the probe will be carried out by the leadership of the Military Advocate General (MAG) leading to accusations of a whitewash.
B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad has written to head of the UN inquiry commission, Santiago Canton, warning that offering such an investigation is a “standard ploy” used by Israel to ease international pressure.
“A real change in Israeli policy will only take place if the international community demands it clearly and unequivocally, and if it stops allowing Israel to do no more than offer hollow promises of ‘investigation’,” he said.
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