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UN rights body orders international probe into Israel’s human rights violations in Gaza war

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Palestinian teenager collects debris at the rubble of a destroyed mosque in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, on May 27, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The UN Human Rights Council has agreed to initiate an international probe into “systematic” human rights abuses committed during the asymmetrical war between Israel and Palestinian resistance groups in the besieged Gaza Strip earlier this month.

The 47-member forum adopted a resolution presented by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Palestinian delegation to the UN, by a vote of 24 states in favor, 9 against, and 14 abstentions.

“The draft resolution ... is therefore adopted,” Nazhat Shameem Khan, Fiji's ambassador who serves as the current president of the Geneva forum, said after an all-day special session on Thursday.

The resolution will start an unprecedented level of scrutiny on abuses and their "root causes" in the recent conflict between Israel and Palestinian resistance groups.

Giving a speech at the beginning of the session, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet expressed special concern about the “high level of civilian fatalities and injuries” from the Israel attacks on Gaza, warning that the Israeli aggression “may constitute war crimes.”

Bachelet also said Palestinian resistance group Hamas’ firing of rockets at the Israeli-occupied territories was “a clear violation of international humanitarian law.”

The UN rights body agreed to establish “an ongoing independent, international commission of inquiry” into the war to probe “underlying root causes of recurrent tensions and instability, including systematic discrimination and repression based on group identity.”

According to the text of the Thursday resolution, the investigation should focus on establishing facts and gather evidence for legal proceedings to identify perpetrators in order to ensure they are held accountable.

Bachelet said her office had “not seen evidence” that the buildings hit by Israeli airstrikes, including medical facilities and media offices, were “hosting armed groups or being used for military purposes.”

Israel laments UNHRC resolution, Hamas welcomes decision

Israel rejected the UN rights body’s Thursday decision with the regime’s foreign ministry saying that it would not cooperate with the probe.

Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Meirav Eilon Shahar, claimed that the resolution showed the council’s bias against the Israeli regime, saying that it “has nothing to do with reality, has nothing to do with human rights.” 

On the opposite, the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, welcomed the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution for launching an international investigation into crimes committed by Israel in its latest act of aggression against Palestinians.

A spokesman for the Hamas said all measures taken by the movement and its fighters were "legitimate resistance" and urged "immediate steps to punish" Israel for its crimes.

US voices regret over resolution

Meanwhile, the US voiced regret over the decision, saying it threatens to “imperil the progress that has been made.”

The US, which has observer status and no vote at the Geneva forum, also refrained to speak at the special session.

The Gaza war began on May 10 and lasted until May 21, when the occupying regime announced a unilateral ceasefire which was accepted, through Egyptian mediation, by the Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza.

It was incited by weeks of Israeli violence against Palestinian worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque and the regime’s attempts to force more Palestinians out of their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood to build new illegal settlements.

Throughout the 11-day encounter, Israeli airstrikes killed at least 254 Palestinians, including 66 children, wounded almost 2,000, and displaced over 72,000 people in the besieged enclave. On the other side, Palestinian rocket attacks killed 12 people in the occupied territories.

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