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UN rights council launches probe into Israel's Gaza offensive
Published Wednesday 23/07/2014 (updated) 24/07/2014 19:58
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Palestinian Foreign Minister Ryad al-Maliki (2nd R) looks on prior to
the start of an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council
on July 23, 2014 at the United Nations Offices in Geneva
(AFP Fabrice Coffrini)
GENEVA (AFP) - The UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday launched a probe into the Gaza offensive, backing calls by the Palestinians to hold Israel to account despite fierce opposition from Israel.

The decision came after a marathon seven-hour emergency session of the top UN human rights body, where Israelis and Palestinians traded accusations over war crimes.

The 47-member council backed a Palestinian-drafted resolution by 29 votes, with Arab and fellow Muslim countries joined by China and Russia, plus Latin American and African nations.

The United States was the sole member to vote against. The 17 abstentions were by the council's European members, plus Japan and South Korea.

The probe team, yet to be appointed, is tasked with reporting back to the council by March.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's media office slammed it as a "travesty" that ignored violations by Palestinian Hamas Islamists.

"This investigation by a kangaroo court is a foregone conclusion," his office said.

US ambassador Keith Harper warned the vote would undermine ceasefire efforts.

"This resolution is not constructive, it is destructive," Harper said, noting it lacked "any semblance of balance" because it made no mention of Hamas' attacks.

Speaking for the European Union, Italian ambassador Maurizio Serra also criticized the failure to mention Hamas or recognize Israel's right to self-defense, despite last-ditch efforts by his team to have such language included.

The session was called by Arab nations and fellow members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

The council's membership rotates, and Israel is not currently part of the UN body. Non-members cannot vote but are entitled to speak.

Israeli ambassador Eviator Manor lashed out at countries that piloted the vote.

"Their Pavlovian instinct demands they react against Israel, in order to divert attention from their own human rights violations," he said.

"Hamas is committing war crimes when it fires rockets indiscriminately at Israel towns and villages. Hamas is protecting its launching sites with the civilian residents of Gaza. Another war crime," he said.

"And this council sits in judgement of Israel? There can be no moral symmetry between a terrorist aggressor and a democracy defending itself," he added.

Blame over 'war crimes'

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki hit back.

"What Israel is doing is a crime against humanity," he said.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay also said Israel's military actions could amount to war crimes, while at the same time condemning indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas.

"There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes," Pillay told the council, citing attacks that have killed Palestinian civilians, including children.

She said Israelis also had a right to live without constant fear of rocket attacks.

"Once again, the principles of distinction and precaution are clearly not being observed during such indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups," she said.

The resolution condemned "the widespread, systematic, and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms" since Israel launched its offensive last month and called for the urgent deployment of an "independent, international commission of inquiry."

The Gaza offensive marks the worst violence since two spikes in conflict in 2009 and 2012, and has already claimed the lives of more than 685 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 34 Israelis, 32 of them soldiers.

"Twenty-five Palestinians have been killed for every single Israeli. How far is this going to go?" Palestinian ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi asked.

"When we ask for a commission of inquiry, what we want to do is identify those responsible so they can be held accountable, so that we can shed light on the truth," he said.

Manor vowed that Israel would "destroy" Hamas' military infrastructure.

"However, the Gaza residents are not our enemies. Israel is fully committed to international law," he said.
1 ) David / USA
23/07/2014 20:41
Oh boy! The UN is going to investigate Israel! I can already tell you that the report won't be worth the toilet paper it will be written on. The UN has no credibility. I wonder why they don't investigate the decade of rockets that Hamas has fired into Israel? Oh, that would prove that Hamas was the instigator- can't have that!

2 ) Yoda / US
23/07/2014 21:07
About time! The UN and the world should be ashamed of themselves for allowing Israel's genocide of Palestinians for 66 years so far! Shame on the world!

3 ) Arnold / Canada
23/07/2014 21:33
Probe will be shot down just like Iron Dome intercepting rockets from Gaza. Scum bag United Nations sucking in all the BS from the Palestinians. Meanwhile the UN excuses rockets in UNWRA schools. Tunnels full of rockets. Hospitals used as weapon storeage. After all these Palestinians are so peaceful. Peaceful my eye. Everytime a peace deal came along they nixed it. Whining they have nothing but lots of cement to bore tunnels. This is because Israel threw out settlers so Gaza could become this.

4 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
23/07/2014 22:48
Total proof that the UNHCR and its bureacratic dictator, or sorry, director, are totally corrupted. The world wastes hundreds of millions of dollars on the farce that shows the world how useless the UN is.

5 ) Chimo / USA
23/07/2014 23:39
Well, clearly Mr. Khraishi is protesting the fact that Israel clearly has better defensive capabilities than Hamas, because Hamas certainly has not shown any restraint in trying to kill any Israeli or anyone who happens to be in Israel, whether Arab or Jew. The useless UN can go on being the international puppets of the Arab members of the "UN Human Rights Council" and all it will do is make everything worse for all civilians in this war.

6 ) shirley / australia
24/07/2014 01:18
the use of tungsten weapons white phosporus fletchlet bombs and talk of sarin gas use the targeting mosques and hospitals and deliberate killing of children is what this is about and all you misereble isreali supporters know it you clearly on the ground and with guded missiles and troops can easily avoid targeting hospitals and ambulances total disregard for rules of war and dirty filthy use of illegal cruel devastaing weapons worse than nazisyou have no honor arrogant racist disgrace to humanit

7 ) Maureen / Australia
24/07/2014 01:59
#1 David It will take more than toilet paper to clean up Israel's shit!

8 ) Robert / Canada
24/07/2014 03:11
It's amazing that israel refuses to recognize the Palestinian right, indeed obligation, to resist the occupation of it's lands and unlawful blockade of Gaza. Israel goes to great lengths not to discuss the fact that it is in violation of over 100 UN resolutions calling on it to obey international law. There is no question the Israelis are conducting an act of genocide, it's time to put that on paper and put an official stamp on it.

9 ) Robert / US
24/07/2014 04:38
The UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL should look at how israel uses the " dahyia doctrine " among hundreds of other evil methods of death and torture, LOOK , LOOK AT IT..."DAHYIA DOCTRINE".

10 ) Outlier / USA
24/07/2014 16:44
Pure, undisguised bias for Gaza and against Israel. The UN should be ashamed and the rest of the world embarrassed.

11 ) JoeFattal / USA
24/07/2014 16:55
The world going to need dozens of Hamas like fighters groups to get rid of that virus call Israel that is spreading in the Holy Land. They are a contagious and deadly virus that its only cure is to destroy it where it is originating from, Israel. But the problem there is no known cure yet for that virus, until some international organization find a cure for that devastating virus people of all ages will die and doctors will be helpless to find relief from that virus as to their patients.

12 ) Dmitry / Israel
24/07/2014 18:34
Instead of accepting Israel's right to exist and signing peace treat, Hamas is launching missiles towards Israel since the withdrawal from Gaza. Should not we defend ourselves? Embargo can not be the reason for the hostility, since Israel allows all civilian cargo to pass into the Gaza strip.
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