UN report 'slams' Israel over Nakba Day bloodshed

Date: 7/6/2011

A UN report into the bloodshed along the Israeli–Lebanon border on Nakba Day, has slammed the Israeli army for using unnecessary force when firing on protesters, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

The report was released by UN Secretary General Ban Ki–moon earlier this week and passed on to the 15 members of the Security Council, with a copy also passed on to Israel's left–leaning Haaretz newspaper.

The study focuses on the events of May 15 when thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon marched on the Israeli border in a show of mass mourning over the creation of the Jewish state, known in Arabic as the Nakba, or "catastrophe."

As the protesters tried to scale the fence, Israeli troops opened fire, killing seven and injuring 111, the report said.

Another four people were killed and scores injured along the Syrian front line with the Israeli–occupied Golan Heights, but the report, which was based on the findings of an investigation by the UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon (UNIFIL), focuses solely on the Lebanese–Israeli confrontation.

The report found that Israeli troops "used direct live fire against unarmed demonstrators" and urged the army to avoid doing so in situations where there was no immediate threat to life.

"Other than firing initial warning shots, the Israel Defence Forces did not use conventional crowd control methods or any other method than lethal weapons against the demonstrators," it says.

In his concluding remarks, Ban urges the Israeli military to act only with the level of force appropriate to the threat facing its troops.

"I call on the Israel Defence Forces to refrain from responding with live fire in such situations, except where clearly required in immediate self–defence," he writes.

"Notwithstanding every country's inherent right of self defence, there is a need for the Israel Defence Forces always to apply appropriate operational measures, including crowd control measures, which are commensurate to the imminent threat toward their troops and civilians," it says.

The paper said Israel was furious with the UN's special coordinator for Lebanon, Michael Williams, who wrote the report, and had cut all ties with him.

The Israeli foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests to confirm details in the report.

Although the lion's share of criticism was reserved for the Israel army, the report also noted it was the Palestinian demonstrators who started the confrontation and were the first to use violence.

It acknowledged that Lebanon's politically–powerful Hezbollah militia group, which is sworn to Israel's destruction, was involved in organising the rallies, Haaretz said.


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