UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said Tuesday she was "deeply troubled" by clashes between IDF forces and Syrian protesters in the Golan Heights, where she said up to 40 people have reportedly been killed over three weeks.
"Between 30 and 40 protesters have reportedly been killed by Israeli security forces in the past three weeks," said Pillay in a statement.
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"The government of Israel has a duty to ensure that its security personnel avoid the use of excessive force," said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"However difficult the circumstances, the use of live ammunition against allegedly unarmed protesters, resulting in large numbers of deaths and injuries, inevitably raises the question of unnecessary and excessive use of force," she added.
IDF troops opened fire on protesters marking "Naksa Day" – the anniversary of the Six-Day War on Sunday. Syrian state television said 23 people were killed in the incident while the IDF said the number was exaggerated.
Pillay also raised concerns that Syrian authorities had encouraged civilians to protest in places where landmines are located, noting that some fatalities may have been caused by the detonation of these mines.
"Syrian authorities have an obligation to ensure that civilians are prevented from entering areas where landmines are planted," she said.
On Monday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the killing of protesters on the Israeli border in what it described as "flagrant Israeli aggression" against unarmed civilians.
Meanwhile, the United States said Monday that Syria was "clearly" behind the lethal confrontations and that Israel has a right to defend itself.
"This is clearly an attempt by Syria to incite these kinds of protests," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, saying Damascus hoped to divert attention from its own internal problems. "Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself."
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