The UN human rights chief says Israel’s reaction was "wholly disproportionate" during the latest mass border protests which left over 60 Palestinians dead on Monday.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussain, addressing a special session of the UN Human Rights Council, pointed out that there is "little evidence of any attempt to minimize casualties."

"Unlawful use of force by an occupying power may also constitute wilful killings, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” said Zeid. 

Pakistan and other Muslim countries are considering putting forward a resolution that includes a call for the council to order an "independent, international commission of inquiry".

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Although some of the demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, used catapults to throw stones, flew burning kites into Israel and attempted to use wire-cutters against the two fences between Gaza and Israel, "these actions alone do not appear to constitute the imminent threat to life or deadly injury which could justify the use of lethal force,” said Zeid.

Zeid also added that "the stark contrast in casualties on both sides is also suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response."

A Palestinian man hurls a stone during clashes with Israeli forces on May 15, near the border fence with Israel east of Jabalia in the central Gaza StripCredit:
Mohammed Abed/AFP

Israel and the United States have repeatedly accused the 47-member council of anti-Israel bias.

The calls for a commission inquiry  "are yet again politically motivated and won’t improve the situation on the ground by even one iota", said Israeli ambassador Aviva Raz Schechter in response to the Friday’s session.

"The unfortunate outcome of Monday’s riots can only be attributed to Hamas’ cynical exploitation of its own population in a violent campaign against Israel," she said. "It is regrettable that so many member states allow themselves to be misled by the false narrative of so-called peaceful protests."

The special UN session was appealed after six weeks of protest and clashes that culminated with the commemoration of the Nakba – the day palestinians remember their mass exodus following the 1948’s Arab-Israeli war – and the opening of the U.S embassy in Jerusalem the day before.

Israel has justified its actions, arguing it was necessary to stop mass infiltrations from Gaza which is run by the Islamist Hamas movement.

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