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UN experts urge impartial investigation into Israeli Land Day killings

[JURIST] UN human rights experts on Friday urged [press release] the international community to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the killings by Israeli security forces of at least 16 Palestinian protesters near the Gaza fence.

Palestinian protestors assembled in Gaza on Land Day [Huffington Post backgrounder] to call for their right to return to their homes. In response, to the demonstrations, Israeli forces used live ammunition and teargas against the protestors, injuring as many as 1,400 Palestinians.

The experts stated, "international law sets strict prohibitions on the use of force by law enforcement officials."

The Basic Principles and Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials require officials to refrain from using lethal force on demonstrators unless strictly unavoidable in order to protect their own or others' lives. The experts said, "there is no available evidence to suggest that the lives of heavily armed security forces were threatened."

"A number of the dead and wounded were shot in their upper bodies while at considerable distances from the Israeli security forces, the experts noted, expressing concern at the apparent disregard for the lives of Palestinian protesters."

The experts remind the Government of Israel that peaceful protest is a legitimate exercise of the rights of freedom of express, assembly, and association, and as the occupying power, Israel is obligated to protect the human rights of Palestinians living in the area.

The experts added that Israel has ignored repeated demands by the international community to credibly investigate allegations of wrongful killings by its security forces and call on the international community to "ensure accountability through an independent and impartial investigation into the Israeli response."

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