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30 Jul 2010 11:30
Israel must lift its military blockade of the Gaza Strip and invite an independent, fact-finding mission to investigate its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, a United Nations rights body said on Friday.
The UN Human Rights Committee also told Israel to ensure that Palestinians in the occupied territories can enjoy the human rights that Israel had pledged to uphold in the main international human rights treaty.
The committee’s non-binding recommendations add to pressure on Israel to explain what happened in its attack on May 31 on an aid flotilla in which nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed, damaging relations between Israel and Turkey.
Israel justifies use of deadly force
Israel admitted errors in planning the raid but justified the use of lethal force saying its marines came under attack from activists weilding knives and clubs. Activists deny this.
They are also the latest in a series of reports and sessions in which Israel has found itself on the defensive at the United Nations over its policies in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
On July 23, another UN rights forum, the Human Rights Council, appointed a team of international experts to investigate the raid on the flotilla and called on all parties to cooperate.
The committee is a body of 18 independent experts, mainly prominent in international and human rights law, that monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by countries that have signed up to it.
The recommendations on Israel’s regular report to the committee on its compliance included calls for investigations into human rights abuses including killings in Israel’s military offensive in Gaza between December 27 2008, and January 18 2009.
The committee also told Israel to end extra-judicial executions of terrorist suspects, make torture illegal, end construction of settlements in the occupied territories, stop building a wall cutting off some of the territories from other regions, and stop destroying homes as a collective punishment.
It asked Israel to say in its next report due by July 2013 what action it had taken on these and other recommendations.
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