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UN Rights Commissioner Slams Israeli Troops for Shooting Dead Amputee at Gaza Rally

UN Rights Commissioner Slams Israeli Troops for Shooting Dead Amputee at Gaza Rally

Tuesday, 19 December, 2017 - 19:15
Ibrahim Abu Thuraya. (Reuters)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned on Tuesday Israeli troops for shooting dead an amputee in the Gaza Strip during protests last week against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

A statement issued by Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein said that Israel’s killing of wheelchair-bound Ibrahim Abu Thuraya was “incomprehensible”.

He added that he was shot in the head by Israeli security forces close to the border fence with Israel on Friday.

But the Israeli military said its own investigation had found that it was not possible to say what had killed Abu Thuraya and that no live fire had been directed at him during the dispersal of the violent demonstration.

“No live fire was aimed at Abu Thuraya. It is impossible to determine whether Abu Thuraya was injured as a result of riot dispersal means, or what caused his death,” part of the military statement said.

Zeid said there was nothing to suggest Abu Thuraya was posing an imminent threat when he was killed and “the facts gathered so far by my staff in Gaza strongly suggest that the force used against (him) was excessive.”

“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,” Zeid’s statement said.

The Israeli military statement said “numerous requests” for information on Abu Thuraya’s wounds had not been answered and that “if additional details are received, they will be examined and studied.”

Gaza medical officials said on Friday that Israeli troops had shot dead four people, including Abu Thuraya, and that 150 others were wounded by live fire during the protests.

Palestinian health officials said Abu Thuraya was shot in the head while demonstrating Friday in Gaza amid unrest following President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Zeid said the military probe that cleared the Israeli troops of any wrongdoing was “insufficient,” calling for an independent and impartial investigation.

Rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said the "very quick internal army investigation" was insufficient.

Abu Thuraya, 29, was a regular at such demonstrations. In media interviews, he had said he had lost both his legs in a 2008 Israeli missile strike in Gaza.

International law strictly regulates the use of force in the context of protests and demonstrations, and the lethal use of firearms should only be employed as the last resort when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life, Zeid said.

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