|The UN accused Israeli soldiers of using excessive force by firing live ammunition at unarmed demonstrators [EPA]|
Israeli officials are allegedly boycotting a UN official in Lebanon after he wrote a report criticising the country’s response to border clashes between Palestinian protesters and the Israeli army in May.
Media in Israel reported on Wednesday that the government had cancelled a visit and cut ties with Michael Williams, UN special co-ordinator for Lebanon, in response to the report.
The Lebanese Armed Forces said seven people died and 111 were injured in the protest on the anniversary of what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba or “catastrophe”, the term for the forced expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their lands by Zionist militias in 1948.
The incident took place near the border village of Maroun el-Rass and was the deadliest in the area since Israel’s war with Lebanon in 2006.
The leaked confidential UN report criticises the Israeli army for using disproportionate force by firing on protesters.
On Wednesday, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, accused Israeli soldiers of using excessive force during the May 15 incident by firing live ammunition at unarmed Lebanese demonstrators trying to breach a border fence.
“The firing of live ammunition by the Israeli Defence Forces across the Blue Line against the demonstrators, which resulted in the loss of civilian life and a significant number of casualties, constituted a violation of
resolution 1701 and was not commensurate to the threat to Israeli soldiers,” Ban said.
A preliminary report by the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon also accused the demonstrators, who threw stones and petrol bombs and tried to bring down a fence, of carrying out “a provocative and violent act,” Ban said.
‘Refrain from responding’
Ban said both the Israelis and the Lebanese demonstrators, mostly Palestinian refugees, violated Security Council resolution 1701 that ended the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, but he was especially critical of the Israeli use of live ammunition.
Karean Peretz, Israel’s UN mission spokesperson, said: “We believe that the response to prevent such events lies with the countries from which the demonstrators are coming.”
On June 5, when there were also protests along the Blue Line [the boundary of the Israeli military withdrawal from Lebanon] Peretz said: “Appropriate measures were taken [by Lebanese authorities] and no such provocations took place.”
“I call on the Israeli Defence Forces to refrain from responding with live fire in such situations, except where clearly required in immediate self-defence,” Ban said at the conclusion of the report.