Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Israel Complains To The UN About Syrian Border Provocation

The Israeli delegation to the United Nations has dispatched a complaint letter to the UN chief and the president of the UN Security Council condemning Syria's "dangerous provocations" on its border with Israel on Sunday.

Haim Waxman, the deputy chief of Israel's delegation to the UN, stressed in his letter that the Syrian government bears the responsibility for any harm caused to the individuals who tried to breach the disengagement line with Israel on Naksa Day, the anniversary of Israel's victory in the 1967 war.

Waxman emphasized that the IDF acted with restraint while handling the protesters and that Israel had repeatedly alerted all parties regarding the "explosive potential of protests planned for June 5 2011."

"Despite these clear warnings, Syria did not prevent demonstrators from arriving at the disengagement line and attempting to cross it," he said.

"To the contrary, this incident — which could not have taken place without the knowledge of the Syrian authorities — reflects a blatant attempt by Syria to distract international attention from the violent repression of its own people."

He urged the international community to convey a message to Syria that "such provocations carry serious potential for escalation and must cease completely."

The IDF said Monday that since all the casualties on Naksa Day were on the Syrian side of the border it was unable to provide an exact count, but it expressed great skepticism about the Syrian figures. Soldiers fired "with precision" at the bottom half of the bodies of the protesters, the army said.

Many, if not most, of the casualties occurred when a brush fire, apparently ignited by Molotov cocktails hurled by the demonstrators, set off antitank mines along the border near Quneitra at about 5 P.M.

The army also accused the Syrian government of creating a deliberate provocation in an effort to divert world attention from its ongoing bloody repression of pro-democracy protests at home.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday expressed concerns over Israeli forces' use of live ammunition against protesters along the cease-fire line between the occupied Golan Heights and Syria, as well as reports that Syrian authorities encouraged the civilians to protest in an area where landmines had been planted.

The U.N. High Commissioner, however, stressed that Israel "has a duty to ensure that its security personnel avoid the use of excessive force," and urged Israel "to comply with its obligations under international human rights and international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians," the U.N. agency said in a statement issued Tuesday from its Geneva, Switzerland office.

"However difficult the circumstances, the use of live ammunition against allegedly unarmed protesters, resulting in large numbers of deaths and injuries, inevitably raises the question of unnecessary and excessive use of force," Pillay said in the statement.
Pillay also admonished Syria, saying authorities "have an obligation to ensure that civilians are prevented from entering areas where landmines are planted."
(source www.haaretz.com and CNN.com)