UN agency that issued ‘apartheid’ Israel report now alleges torture, killings
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Israel's UN envoy: 'Yet another blood libel'

UN agency that issued ‘apartheid’ Israel report now alleges torture, killings

Jerusalem pans new document by Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, which charges that security forces mistreat Palestinians, carry out 'extra-judicial executions'

A panel in 2014 for UNESCWA with former head Rima Khalaf, second from left. (CC BY 2.0, Flickr/ITU/C. Montesano Casillas)
A panel in 2014 for UNESCWA with former head Rima Khalaf, second from left. (CC BY 2.0, Flickr/ITU/C. Montesano Casillas)

The UN agency that caused an uproar three months ago when it released a report accusing Israel of being an “apartheid regime” and of racially dominating the Palestinians has authored a new document slamming the Jewish state for allegedly torturing Palestinians and carrying out “extra-judicial executions.”

The new report, dated May 23, was submitted to the UN General Assembly and the UN Economic and Social Council for their respective upcoming sessions. The document appears to have been made available online as of Wednesday.

The report, drafted by the Beirut-based UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), claims Israeli security forces use disproportionate force against Palestinians and mistreat Palestinian detainees, including minors, and that Israel does not pursue justice for wrongdoing against Palestinians.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN called it a blood libel, and said he would seek to have it withdrawn, as happened with the Council’s previous report on Israel in March.

The report focused on the period from from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, and says that Israeli security forces killed 63 Palestinians, including 19 minors, and wounded an additional 2,276 Palestinians including 562 children. It notes that “at least 37 of the Palestinians killed were carrying out or suspected of carrying out attacks against Israelis.”

It also expresses concern over “the use of force and unlawful killings by Israeli security forces, including some cases which may have amounted to extrajudicial executions.”

Citing the UN Committee Against Torture, the report further accuses Israel of “torture or ill-treatment of Palestinian children,” of “deprivation of basic legal safeguards for administrative detainees, isolation and solitary confinement of detainees, including minors, punishment and ill-treatment of hunger strikers.”

It also alleged that “no criminal investigation was opened into more than 1,000 complaints of torture or ill-treatment filed since 2001.”

The agency also said Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of a lasting and
comprehensive peace.”

In March, ESCWA penned a report titled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” which sparked a backlash by Israel and the US, leading Washington to demand action by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who distanced himself from the report and ordered it withdrawn.

The document was removed from the agency’s website and the head of the body, Jordanian UN official Rima Khalaf, resigned shortly thereafter.

ESCWA, which lists the state of Palestine as a full member, works to strengthen cooperation and promote development.

On Thursday, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said he would work to have the newest report removed as well, calling it “yet another blood libel against the State of Israel.”

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley walks with Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon as they arrive for a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, June 7, 2017. Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley walks with Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon as they arrive for a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, June 7, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Just as we succeeded in having the previous preposterous report removed, we will fight relentlessly against this blatantly false distortion of the truth as well,” he said in a statement. “We will not accept any attempt to slander the brave soldiers of the IDF.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely speaks during a ceremony laying the corner stone of the Yovel neighborhood in which 50 homes will be built, in Kibbutz Kfar Etziob, on June 7, 2017. ( Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely speaks during a ceremony laying the corner stone of the Yovel neighborhood in which 50 homes will be built, in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, on June 7, 2017. ( Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Thursday that “as long as the industry of untruthful reports continues at the UN, and elements with political interests prepare these papers under the guise of professional reports, the UN cannot be an honest player.”

“The IDF protects children while Hamas uses children as human shields,” she said in a press statement. “We are facing a cruel enemy that systematically violates human rights. Instead of writing reports on Hamas’ violations, ESCWA is striking at a country that operates according to moral values and protects human rights in the entire region.”

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