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UN slams 'shocking' killing of disabled Palestinian protester

AFP , Tuesday 19 Dec 2017
Palestinian
File photo: Handicapped Palestinian demonstrator Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh waving a Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli soldiers following a protest against the blockade on Gaza, near the border fence east of Gaza City. The 29-year-old Abu Thurayeh was shot during clashes with Israeli security forces against Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, on Dec. 15, 2017 AFP
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The UN's human rights chief said Tuesday he was "truly shocked" by Israeli troops' killing of a wheelchair-bound Palestinian protester in the besieged Gaza, and demanded an "independent and impartial investigation".

Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh, a 29-year-old who lost his legs after an Israeli attack a decade ago, was among five Palestinians killed on Friday during protests against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein slammed Trump's decision as "dangerously provocative" and blamed it for the violence.

The UN human rights office said Abu Thurayeh was among hundreds of Palestinians who marched across farmland towards the fence separating Gaza from Israel, and appeared to have been shot in the head when he was 20 metres (yards) from the barrier.

"The facts gathered so far by my staff in Gaza strongly suggest that the force used against Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh was excessive," Zeid said.

"As far as we can see, there is nothing whatsoever to suggest that Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh was posing an imminent threat of death or serious injury when he was killed.

"Given his severe disability, which must have been clearly visible to those who shot him, his killing is incomprehensible - a truly shocking and wanton act."

In video footage recorded early on Friday, Abu Thurayeh could be seen carrying the Palestinian flag and waving the victory sign at Israeli soldiers across the border.

Israel had seized control of the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, a move that has never been recognised by the international community.

The Palestinians have long-demanded occupied East Jerusalem for the capital of their future state.

Peace negotiations between the Palestinian authorities and Israel – which have lasted for more than two decades based on the 1993 Oslo accords – have broken down since 2014.

In recent years, Israel has intensified the construction of hundreds of illegal Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, thus creating new demographics that weaken the abilities of the Palestinians to build a geographically contiguous state.

There are an estimated 4.3 million Palestinians who live in the occupied territories; two million in Gaza, two million in the West Bank and 325,000 in East Jerusalem.

The Israeli crackdown on Palestinian protests against Trump's decision has left at least 11 Palestinians killed and more than 3,000 injured in the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Over the past 50 years, the US has repeatedly vetoed resolutions that condemn Israeli aggression or illegal settlement-construction.

 "Israeli security forces have responded with firearms, including live-ammunition, to disperse the protesters," the rights office said.

"These events, including the loss of five irreplaceable human lives, can sadly be traced directly back to the unilateral US announcement on the status of Jerusalem, which breaks international consensus and was dangerously provocative."

While the Israeli army has reportedly conducted a preliminary internal probe into the events, Zeid urged "an independent and impartial investigation" to ensure perpetrators are held accountable.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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