UN rights body condemns use of force by Israel in occupied Palestinian territories

UN rights body condemns use of force by Israel in occupied Palestinian territories

The top United Nations rights body today condemned the "disproportionate and indiscriminate" use of force by the Government of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In one of four resolutions adopted this morning on rights violations in the occupied Arab territories, the Commission on Human Rights urged Israel to make every effort to ensure that its security forces observed international standards regarding the use of force.

By a vote of 28 in favour to two opposed (Guatemala and the United States) with 22 abstentions, the Commission "strongly deplored" the practice of extra-judicial killings carried out by Israeli forces, expressed its concern at the large number of persons who have been detained during recent months, and condemned the use of torture against Palestinians during interrogations.

In another text, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour with the same two countries opposed and 21 abstentions, the Commission called on Israel to stop imposing its laws and jurisdiction over Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan. Israel should "desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens" and halt its repressive measures against them, the Commission stressed.

The third resolution -- adopted by a vote of 50 in favour to one opposed (United States) with one abstention (Costa Rica) -- urges Israel to cease its policy of expanding settlements in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. The fourth text (33-1-19) calls on Israel to refrain from holding Lebanese citizens in its prisons as hostages for bargaining purposes and to release them immediately.

In other action today, the Commission passed a "motion of no-action" by a vote of 23-17-12 on a United States-sponsored resolution on the situation of human rights in China -- thereby blocking a vote on the text.

Yesterday, the Commission, which is holding its 57th session, heard a report by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani, who said that the degree of violence used to silence voices speaking out in defence of human rights was increasing daily. "I am deeply concerned by the variety of repressive trends, measures and practices used to threaten the freedom of action of human rights defenders," Ms. Jilani said. She added that the failure of States to offer effective guarantees against the violation of rights had given a more critical dimension to the issue of human security.