U.N. Denounces Israel Violence
By Naomi Koppel, Associated Press Writer, 21 March 2001, Yahoo News
GENEVA (AP) - Israeli security forces have overreacted to the Palestinian uprising, using ``excessive and disproportionate force,'' a United Nations commission said Wednesday.

The Palestinian revolt does not amount to ``protracted armed violence on the part of an armed group,'' the three-man commission of inquiry said. The violence had not been organized, it said.

Israel claims it has acted with the force necessary to protect its people, and has refused to cooperate with the commission during a Feb. 10-18 visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

During the visit, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Yaffa Ben-Ari said the mission's mandate was ``biased and unacceptable to us and its findings are predetermined.''

The commission's mandate - set out at a special U.N. Human Rights Commission session last fall - was to investigate ``grave breaches of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupying power in the occupied Palestinian territories.'' It did not mention possible rights violations by Palestinians.

Since September, more than 350 Palestinians have been killed in clashes between the two sides. Almost 60 Israelis have died.

Israeli forces should ``ensure that even in life-threatening situations, great care is taken not to inflict injury on civilians not directly involved in hostile activities and not to cause disproportionate harm and injury,'' said a draft copy of the commission's report to be made public next week.

The report called for an end to the barricading of the Palestinian territories by Israeli forces.

``Immediate and effective measures need to be taken to end closures, curfews and other restrictions placed on the movement of people and goods in the occupied territories so that the right to livelihood and normal economic activities are restored, as also are the right of access to education and health,'' it said.

Israeli and Palestinian representatives on the Human Rights Commission declined comment.

In a speech to the commission earlier Wednesday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior said Palestinian violence has made Israel ``assume a role we abhor, where we are forced to defend our citizens by resorting to military means, which we had hoped and prayed would have been relegated to the past.''

However, ``it seems incontestable that the Israeli Security Forces - the IDF and the Israeli Police Force - have used excessive and disproportionate force,'' the report said.

It said the use of snipers and other targeted shooting by either side ``amounts to extrajudicial execution which is a gross violation of the right to life and constitutes a breach of international humanitarian law.''

The report called for compensation to be paid to the victims of unlawful force that led to injury or destruction of property, and to the relatives of those killed.

Commission members were Kamal Hossain, former prime minister of Bangladesh; Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton University; and John Dugard of South Africa, who lectures at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

[Jihad] [Mainpage] [What's New?]