Israel Supreme Court upholds use of lethal force against Palestinians during protests | News | DW | 24.05.2018
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Israel Supreme Court upholds use of lethal force against Palestinians during protests

Israel's top court has upheld the use of lethal force against Palestinians amid weeks of protests on the Gaza border. The court said the protests took place in the context of Israel's long-running conflict with Hamas.

Israel's Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a legal challenge by six rights groups against the military's use of lethal force against Palestinians in Gaza.

The groups had asked the court to declare any regulations allowing Israeli troops to fire at unarmed civilians as unlawful.

However, the court unanimously sided with the military, arguing that the weeks-long Palestinian protests that raged on the Gaza border took place in the context of Israel's long-running "armed conflict" with the Islamic militant group Hamas. Rules concerning of armed conflict provide greater leeway to use live fire that those governing other law enforcement practices.

Read more: Palestinians call on ICC to investigate alleged Israeli human rights crimes

Chief justice Esther Hayut said that, despite the ruling, Israel's army should continue its internal review of its actions during the protests.

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Daibes: 'The death toll is on the Palestinian side'

Yesh Din, one of the groups that brought the challenge against the Israeli military, slammed the court's decision on Twitter, accusing the judges having "missed an opportunity to prevent the continuation of the killing and injuries."

Israel has defended its actions at the border, insisting that Hamas was using the protests as cover to carry out attacks. It also maintains that live fire is only used as a last resort to prevent actions it considers "a real danger" to troops and civilians living near the Gaza border.

Read more: Little optimism in Middle East conflict, Israeli historian says

Gaza actions prompt blistering condemnation

Israel's military rules of engagement drew international condemnation after troops shot dead around 100 Palestinians during two months of protests at the border with Gaza.

At least 62 Gazans were killed and hundreds more were wounded on May 14, as thousands of demonstrators marched on the border to protest the US officially unveiling its new embassy in Jerusalem. It marked the bloodiest day of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.

Read more: 'General disregard' for Palestine, says UN coordinator in Gaza

Several leading powers and international organization — including the United Nations, European Union, Britain and Germany — have called for an independent investigation into Israel's use of force against what mostly appeared to be unarmed protestors.

However, the US, Israel's strongest backer, has vetoed any moves for a probe at the UN-level.


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dm/bw (AP, AFP)

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