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UN: Israel Violating Human Rights

March 27, 2001

GENEVA (AP) _ A special U.N. investigator on Tuesday accused Israel of escalating the ``unrestrained use of force″ against Palestinian demonstrators.

Israeli forces also have killed at least 13 people in ambushes and have destroyed hundreds of Palestinian homes and other property, said Giorgio Giacomelli of Italy in the report to the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission.

``The use of force has escalated on both sides,″ Giacomelli said in the report. He noted that the United Nations had appointed him only to look into Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied territories.

On Tuesday, Palestinians set off two explosions in Jerusalem. One person was killed, apparently the bus attacker, and about two dozen people were injured in the explosions a day after the Israeli army said Palestinian snipers killed a 10-month-old Israeli girl in Hebron.

The deputy Israeli foreign minister, Rabbi Michael Melchior, told the U.N. commission last week that Israel was forced to defend its citizens because the Palestinians responded to peace overtures last year ``with a wave of violence.″

The violence, Melchior said, ``has turned into protracted and pervasive attacks on the Israeli civilian population″ and forced Israel to use military means.

Israel refuses to cooperate with Giacomelli, who criticized Israeli military use of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas against civilian demonstrators and bystanders.

``This disproportionate and unrestrained use of force has increased the Palestinian civilian death toll and injuries dramatically,″ Giacomelli said.

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