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UN rights body calls for probe into Israeli carnage in Gaza

Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The UN human rights body has called for an independent investigation into the recent Israeli massacre of Palestinian protesters in Gaza Strip after the US blocked the same bid at the Security Council.

“We call for independent, transparent investigations in all cases of death and injury since 30 March. Since 30 March, 112 Palestinians, including 14 children, have lost their lives at the fence and thousands have been injured,” Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.

“We stress, again, that lethal force may only be used as a measure of last – not first – resort, and only when there is an immediate threat to life or serious injury,” he noted

“An attempt to approach or crossing or damaging the fence does not amount to a threat to life or serious injury and are not sufficient grounds for the use of live ammunition. This is also the case with regards to stones and Molotov cocktails being thrown from a distance at well-protected security forces located behind defensive positions,” the UN official added.

Colville noted that six children and one health worker were among the fatalities and 10 journalists sustained injuries from gunshot wounds.

The UN rights official warned of lack resources for treatment of the injured inside Gaza Strip due to destruction of healthcare infrastructure of the coastal enclave and noted that Israel is effectively preventing the wounded from exiting Gaza for treatment.

Palestinians both in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank are taking part in a general strike as they participate in mass rallies marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba (Catastrophe Day) on Tuesday to protest the creation of the Israeli entity and renew the call for a return to their homeland.

Nakba Day is commemorated on May 15 every year, marking the day after Israel declared its existence in 1948. That year also saw a war between Israel and a coalition of Arab states over the control of Palestine, during which some 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes and hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages were destroyed.

The planned rallies come a day after Israeli forces unleashed yet another brutal crackdown on Palestinian protesters in Gaza, killing 60 people and wounding over 2,700 others.

The ongoing protests in Gaza are part of the “March of Return,” which first began on March 30 with the aim of condemning Israel’s occupation and demanding their right to return.

Monday, which marked the bloodiest day for Palestinians since the 2014 Gaza war, also saw the official relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.

Kuwait, a non-permanent UNSC member, called for an emergency session of the Council on Tuesday in the wake of the incidents, but the US blocked a statement by the council which would have called for an independent probe of the deadly violence in Gaza.

"The Security Council expresses its outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest," read a draft of the statement.

"The Security Council calls for an independent and transparent investigation into these actions to ensure accountability," the text added.

The statement went on to call upon all parties to exercises restraint and avoid actions which could further worsen the situation.

It also added that any decisions and actions "which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect," in an elaborate reference to the Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Moscow expressed deep concern over the Gaza carnage on Tuesday and called on all countries to avoid actions that might instigate tensions in the Middle East.

“From the very beginning, Moscow expressed concern that actions by the United States could provoke tensions in the Middle East,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The Kremlin is closely monitoring the situation in Gaza border closely as the death of many dozens of Palestinians “can only elicit the deepest concern,” Peskov added.

On Monday, the White House said the responsibility for the deaths of dozens of Palestinians on the Gaza-Israel border "rests squarely with Hamas," and slammed Palestinians’ border protests as "cynical." US President Donald Trump’s administration also expressed full support for what it called Israel's "right to defend itself."

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