UN rights council approves probe into Israeli response to Gaza clashes

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The United Nations Human Rights Council approves a commission of inquiry to investigate Israel’s handling of clashes on the Gaza border and alleged human rights violations in the Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem. Twenty-nine countries on the rights council vote to approve the probe, including China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, while 14 countries abstained. Only the United States and Austria vote against the resolution.

Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, the UN human rights chief criticised Israel’s reaction to protests along the Gaza border as “wholly disproportionate” and backed calls for an international investigation. Addressing a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Friday, he said there was “little evidence” Israel made an effort to minimise casualties during mass border protests by Palestinians on Monday.

He added that Israeli forces had killed 106 Palestinians, including 15 children, since March 30. More than 12,000 were injured, at least 3,500 by live ammunition. He went on saying that Israel was an occupying power under international law, obliged to protect the people of Gaza and ensure their welfare.”

In a rather harsh statement, al Hussein said “the people of Gaza, in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; dehumanised by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest.”

He went on to say that Israel has systematically deprived Palestinians of their human rights, with 1.9 million in Gaza “caged in a toxic slum from birth to death”.

Israel’s ambassador to the body, Aviva Raz Shechter, however, insisted her country had tried to minimise casualties when it defended its borders against “terrorists” in Gaza, and blamed Hamas militants for using human shields, accusing the council of indulging the “worst form of anti-Israel obsession”. “This special session, the resolution before you, and its call for a commission of inquiry are yet again politically motivated and won’t change the situation on the ground by even one iota,” she said.

The US adopted Israel’s position, calling the call for an investigation “one-sided” and repeating the Trump administration’s position that the Human Rights Council has a disproportionate focus on alleged Israeli abuses. “The scale of violence is quite small compared to the worst human rights situations around the world,” said US envoy, Theodore Allegra.

 

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