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UN rights chief concerned over Gaza Strip violence
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UN rights chief concerned over Gaza Strip violence

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Monday expressed concern [press release] over the recent violence along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel that has left multiple Palestinian civilians dead.

Speaking to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Zeid noted that the past two weeks “have seen the heaviest exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and armed groups in Gaza since the 2014 escalation of hostilities.”

He called for an end to hostilities and for accountability for those responsible:

It is essential that the authorities cooperate with the future Commission to advance accountability for these killings, as well as all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Currently, although Israel has put in place a number of accountability mechanisms, there are serious concerns that these are not in compliance with the international standards of independence, impartiality, and effectiveness. Very few investigations ever occur; in the rare cases where an investigation has led to an indictment, the sentence has been extremely lenient in light of the gravity of the crime committed.

Zeid also expressed concern over the detention of Palestinian children, arbitrary arrests of activists, and restrictions on civil society. “These assaults on fundamental rights dismantle trust in institutions; strip away the social structures which enable peaceful resolution of disputes; and create a tinderbox in which any flash of conflict may ignite severe and unpredictable consequences.”

Zeid concluded his remarks with a call for an end to the occupation.