The UN’s leading human rights official has said there is “little evidence” Israel made an effort to minimalise casualties during protests by Palestinians earlier this week and backed calls for an international inquiry.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein spoke in Geneva to a special session of the UN Human Rights Council called following a deadly crackdown on protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces.
Troops firing into Hamas-ruled Gaza killed nearly 60 Palestinians at mass border protests on Monday.
The session will consider a resolution put forward by Pakistan and other Muslim countries that includes a call for the council to dispatch an “independent, international commission of inquiry”.
“There is little evidence of any attempt to minimise casualties on Monday,” said Mr Zeid, a Jordanian prince.
Some demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, used sling-shots, flew burning kites intoIsrael, and attempted to use wire-cutters on border fences, but “these actions alone do not appear to constitute the imminent threat to life or deadly injury which could justify the use of lethal force”, Mr Zeid added.
He said: “The stark contrast in casualties on both sides is also suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response.”
Israel and the US have repeatedly accused the 47-member council of anti-Israel bias.
Israeli ambassador Aviva Raz Schechter said Friday’s session and the call for a commission of inquiry “are yet again politically motivated and won’t improve the situation on the ground by even one iota”.
“The unfortunate outcome of Monday’s riots can only be attributed to Hamas’s 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.”