NEW YORK, Mar 19 (APP):A United Nations commission has urged Israeli authorities to step up their inquiries into shootings by Israeli troops of Palestinian demonstrators during the protests a year ago, which investigators say may have constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The three-person commission of inquiry made its recommendation on Monday in presenting the United Nations Human Rights Council with its full 252-page report on Israel’s use of deadly force against demonstrators, calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

The broad contours of the commission’s report were already known after the release of a summary document last month that reported the deaths of 189 Palestinians, of whom 183 — including 32 children — were killed by live ammunition. The commission said snipers firing such ammunition also injured 6,106 Palestinians, inflicting many life-changing wounds.

The commission chairman, Santiago Canton, told reporters in Geneva on Monday: “I hope Israel expands the investigation to all the killings and all the injured. That’s what we expect or hope Israel will do.”

Release of the commission’s full report, came as another United Nations expert monitoring human rights in Gaza, delivered a separate report critical of Israel’s expanding settlements and its extraction of natural resources for commercial use. That report also warned of a looming “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.

After March 30, 2018, tens of thousands of Palestinians turned out along the fence on Fridays to demand an end to Israel’s draconian blockade of Gaza and the right to return to land that belonged to their ancestors in what is now Israel. Additional mass protests are expected to note the start of the first anniversary and beyond.

The commission was acutely aware of the context in which those protests erupted, Canton told the human rights council, but its report concluded, “Israeli soldiers killed and gravely injured civilians who were neither participating directly in hostilities nor posing an imminent threat to the Israeli Security Forces, or to the civilian population in Israel.”

Among those killed were three paramedics and two journalists, all wearing clothing that clearly identified them, the report said. At least 39 other paramedics were wounded by live ammunition
as they provided medical assistance, and an additional 39 journalists were also shot, it said.

The commission said it had heard that large crowds would turn out at the fence for the protests’ anniversary on March 30 and urged Israel to ensure its rules of engagement, complied with international law. The excessive use of force that occurred over the past year “must not be repeated,” it said.

In his remarks, Canton added that the “excessive use of force” that took place on March 30, May 14 and October 12, 2018 “must not be repeated”.

Recalling a senior Israeli official’s statement that “each and every bullet” fired by security forces during the protests had received authorization from an experienced commander he said the commission found that lethal force had been authorized, “in the majority of cases”, unlawfully.

“This inevitably led to arbitrary deprivation of life,” he said.

On its part, Israel says the UN council is biased, and it boycotted the day-long debate, while hundreds of Israel supporters rallied outside the United Nations in Geneva, including senior
US officials.