UN Rights Council to investigate crimes during conflict in Gaza

UN Rights Council to investigate crimes during conflict in Gaza

The UN Human Rights Council has agreed to launch an open international investigation into the violations during the 11 days of conflict between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza, and into the “systematic” abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories and inside Israel.
By a vote of 24 states in favor, nine against, with 14 abstentions, the 47-member forum adopted a resolution after a one-day special session on Thursday presented by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Palestinian delegation to the Nations.

The resolution calls for the establishment of a permanent commission of inquiry – the most powerful tool at the council’s disposal – to monitor and report human rights violations in Israel, Gaza, the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. It would be the first IOC of its kind with a “permanent” mandate.

According to the text, the commission is also to investigate “all the underlying root causes of the recurring tensions, instability and prolongation of the conflict”, including discrimination and repression.

The investigation should focus on fact-finding and gathering evidence for prosecution, and should aim to identify perpetrators to ensure they are held accountable, he said.

Israel has said it will not cooperate with the investigation.

“Today’s shameful decision is another example of the UN Human Rights Council’s blatant anti-Israel obsession,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “This parody mocks international law and encourages terrorists around the world.”

A spokesman for the Palestinian group Hamas that governs Gaza hailed the investigation, calling its own actions “legitimate resistance” and calling for “immediate action to punish” Israel.

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the resolution, saying it amounted to “international recognition of Israel’s systemic oppression and discrimination against the Palestinian people.”

“This reality of apartheid and impunity can no longer be ignored,” he added.

The United States has said it deeply regrets the decision.

“Today’s action threatens instead to jeopardize the progress that has been made,” said the statement issued by the US mission to the UN in Geneva.

Kristen Saloomey, Al Jazeera, New York, said the special session of the Human Rights Council was called “after an unprecedented level of international oversight and pressure for action” in the wake of the most recent violence.

” While [the body] does not have the power to punish those they find guilty, it marks an unprecedented level of control for Israel in a situation it has found itself in the past.

Opening the session, UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet said Israel’s recent attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip that killed more than 200 Palestinians may constitute “war crimes” .

“Although apparently targeting members of armed groups and their military infrastructure, the Israeli attacks left many civilians dead and injured, as well as large-scale destruction and damage to civilian property,” Bachelet said, highlighting the extent of destruction in Gaza which has been under a 14 year Israeli blockade.

“If found to be disproportionate, such attacks could constitute war crimes,” Bachelet told the 47-member forum in Geneva.

She also said that the “indiscriminate” rocket fire by Hamas into Israel was “a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.”

“However, the actions of one party do not relieve the other of its obligations under international law.”

She warned that violence could erupt again if the “root causes” are not addressed.

The 11-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, which began on May 10, has killed at least 254 Palestinians, including 66 children, and injured more than 1,900 people, according to the Gaza health ministry.

At least 12 people, including three foreign workers and two children, were killed in Israel by rockets fired by Hamas and other armed groups from Gaza during the same period.

The fighting erupted after weeks of growing tension over Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem.

The threat of forced eviction of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood has led to numerous protests, which have resulted in severe Israeli repression and raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque – considered the third holiest site in the Islam.

Palestinian factions in Gaza, including Hamas, fired rockets at Israel in response. Israel then launched a military offensive on Gaza.

Youmna Al Sayed, reporting for Al Jazeera from Gaza, said the Palestinians called on the international community to hold Israel accountable, “given the targeting of civilians in a densely populated area and residential buildings” and for the destruction of buildings. housing press offices in the Gaza Strip.

« [Palestinians] want the international community to act and not just condemn Israeli crimes [committed] on civilians and the Gaza Strip, ”Al Sayed said.


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