Israeli anti-occupation group urges soldiers not to shoot unarmed Palestinians

By Middle East Affairs

An Israeli anti-occupation and human rights group called Wednesday for troops to refuse orders to shoot unarmed Palestinian protesters, Haaretz reports.

Protests near the Gaza border fence since last Friday have left 17 Palestinians dead, as Israeli troops are told that their priority is to keep the Palestinians from crossing the Israeli border.

The organization B’Tselem released a statement Wednesday:

“The military prepared for these demonstrations, yet instead of attempting to minimize the number of casualties, officials made it clear in advance that soldiers would fire live ammunition on protesters who are hundreds of meters away from the fence.”

B’Tselem called those orders unlawful.

“Compliance with unlawful orders is a criminal offense,” the organization said. “Therefore, if soldiers on the ground receive orders to fire live ammunition at unarmed civilians, they are duty-bound to refuse to obey them.”

Israel is facing global criticism for its strategy against the protesters, and the United Nations on Saturday called for a transparent investigation into the deaths of the 17 Palestinians.

Protests will gain momentum again this weekend, and Haaretz said Palestinian factions are enlisting tens of thousands of people to come to the tent camp near the fence. Participants are directed to stay nonviolent.

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