United Nations

UN rights body demands Israel be held accountable for possible war crimes


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UN rights body demands Israel be held accountable for possible war crimes

DESTRUCTION. Palestinians walk past the ruins of houses destroyed during Israel's military offensive, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza City, March 20, 2024.

Dawoud Abu Alkas/REUTERS

A total of 28 countries voted in favor of the resolution, while 13 abstained, and six outright opposed the resolution, including the US and Germany

GENEVA, Switzerland – The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday, April 5, adopted a resolution calling for Israel to be held accountable for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip, although Israel dismissed it as a “distorted text.”

Twenty-eight countries voted in favor, 13 abstained, and six opposed the resolution, including the United States and Germany. The adoption prompted several representatives to the Council to cheer and clap.

The resolution stressed “the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in order to end impunity.”

It also expressed “grave concern at reports of serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, accused the Council of having “long abandoned the Israeli people and long defended Hamas.”

“According to the resolution before you today, Israel has no right to protect its people, while Hamas has every right to murder and torture innocent Israelis,” she said ahead of the vote. “A vote ‘Yes’ is a vote for Hamas.”

Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi welcomed the vote but complained that some European states had not backed it.

“There have been calls for accountability across the world, but that position changes when we’re talking about Israel,” Khraishi told the Council.

The United States had pledged to vote against the resolution because it did not contain a specific condemnation of Hamas for the October 7 attacks, or “any reference to the terrorist nature of those actions.”

It did, however, said that its ally Israel had not done enough to mitigate harm to civilians.

“The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to de-conflict military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties and to ensure humanitarian actors can carry out their essential mission in safety,” said Michèle Taylor, US permanent representative to the Council.

“That has not happened and, in just six months, more humanitarians have been killed in this conflict than in any war of the modern era,” she added.

In later resolutions, the Council endorsed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and denounced Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967. It said they seriously endangered the viability of an eventual Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The Council, which meets several times a year, is the only intergovernmental body designed to protect human rights worldwide. It can increase scrutiny of countries’ human rights records and authorise investigations. – Rappler.com

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