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Amnesty calls for investigation into Nakba Day deaths

May 18, 2011 2:52 P.M. (Updated: May 20, 2011 8:28 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A "full, impartial and independent investigation" must be launched into the Israeli military’s use of force against Palestinians and Syrian Durze during Sunday protests which saw 13 killed, international rights group Amnesty International said.

Ten Palestinian refugees were killed as they commemorated the 1948 expulsion from their homes and villages in what is now Israel, another two Syrian Druze were killed by Israeli fire as they breached the border dividing the Golan Heights in a protest demanding their right to return, and one Palestinian was killed in Gaza was killed as he joined a protest commemorating those killed in the fighting that accompanied the creation of the state of Israel.

In its call for an investigation, Amnesty criticized Israel for its characterization of the events marking the Palestinian Nakba - the "catastrophe" of 1948 - "as 'riots' and attempts to 'infiltrate' into Israel illegally, and in several of the protests, demonstrators threw rocks towards Israeli troops," noting that in no accounts have Israeli officials "claimed that any protesters fired on Israeli troops."

Troops responded to the events "by firing live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, artillery shells and tear gas against the protesters," prompting serious concern from the organization, which characterized the response as one of "excessive force, killing and maiming individuals who were not posing a threat to the lives of the soldiers or others."
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