Israeli forces are facing fresh condemnation from international human rights experts for their “excessive force” against Palestinian protesters in occupied East Jerusalem that left hundreds injured, and airstrikes into Gaza that killed dozens of people including nine children.
Also under scrutiny are Israel’s attempted evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, which would amount to “war crimes,” Amnesty International said Monday.
In a statement Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reiterated its plea for an end to the violence, and also addressed the retaliatory rockets fired by Hamas into Israel that injured 17 Israeli civilians. The body appealed to Israel and Palestinian armed groups to respect international humanitarian law.
Referring to Israel’s strikes into densely populated Gaza, an area deemed by occupation critics an open-air prison, spokesperson for the High Commissioner Rupert Colville said, “Any attack, including airstrikes, should be directed solely at military objectives and all feasible precautions must be taken to avoid civilian deaths and injury and damage to civilian objects.”
“Israel must also refrain from punitive measures, such as additional closures and restrictions, that punish the entire civilian population of Gaza,” he said.
Israel launched a new round of airstrikes into Gaza on Tuesday, bringing the death toll up to 26, according to the Associated Press. Retaliatory rockets fired from Gaza into Israel resulted in the first Israeli causalities from the latest spate of violence—two people in the southern city of Ashkelon—after which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said military forces would “increase both the strength and rate of the strikes.”
Ahead of the latest round of airstrikes into Gaza, Israeli security forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque for a third consecutive night, “firing rubber-coated steel rounds, stun grenades, and tear gas at Palestinian worshipers inside the mosque in the final days of the holy month of Ramadan,” as Al Jazeera reported. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society, which says it’s been targeted as it attempted to provide aid to wounded worshipers and protesters, said that over 900 Palestinians were injured between May 7 and May 10 in East Jerusalem.
The repression drew condemnation from United Nations human rights experts Michael Lynk and Balakrishnan Rajagopal.
“The recent scenes of Israeli police and security forces attacking large crowds of Palestinian residents and worshipers is only intensifying a deeply inflammatory atmosphere in the city. A militarized response to civilian protests against discriminatory practices only deepens social divisions. Respecting rights is the only path forward,” Lynk, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, and Rajagopal, special rapporteur on adequate housing, said in a statement.
“It is not just an eviction, but a war crime. Remember that. I do not know why the entire world is watching what is happening and letting Israel get away with it.”
—Nabil el-Kurd, resident of Sheikh Jarrah Their statement also references the threatened evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, which have elicited ongoing protests.
“An occupying power is prohibited from confiscating private property belonging to the protected population, and it must respect the body of existing laws which had governed the territory, unless it is absolutely necessary to alter them,” said Lynk and Rajagopal.
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