The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has voted to launch an open-ended international investigation into violations during the eleven-day conflict between Israeli forces and Hamas groups in Gaza Strip and into orderly abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories and inside the Israeli state.
By a vote of 24 to nine, with fourteen abstaining, the forty-seven-member body adopted a resolution after an all-day special session on Thursday (May 27) brought by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Palestinian delegation to the U.N. But America said the decision threatened to endanger advancement in bringing quiet to the region. Russia and the People’s Republic of China were among those who voted in favor.
At least 254 were killed, including 66 children, and injuring over 1900 people in Gaza and thirteen people, including two children and three foreign workers, during eleven days of violent fighting that ended Friday with an Egyptian-brokered truce.
The violence came after weeks of spiraling Palestine-Israeli tension in occupied Jerusalem, which ended in clashes at the AL-AQSA Mosque compound revered by both Jews and Muslims.
Hamas’s militants began firing rockets into the Israeli state after threatening it to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air raids from Israel on Gaza targets.
The Text of the Resolution
The resolution’s text, brought by the OIC and the Palestinian delegation, calls for a permanent Commission of an investigation to be set up to report on rights violations in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel. Moreover, it calls for the inquiry of all underlying root causes of instability, recurrent tensions, and lengthening of conflict.
It said that the inquiry should emphasize on establishing facts and fold evidence for lawful proceedings and should aim to identify perpetrators to ensure they are held accountable.
Israel said it wouldn’t cooperate with the investigation.
Opening the council session, Michele Bachelet, UN Human Rights Chief, said she was worried about the high level of fatalities in Gaza and cautioned that Israeli attacks might constitute war crimes. Moreover, she described Hamas’s rocket firing at Israel as indiscriminate and a transparent violation of international humanitarian law.
Statement Released by the United States Mission to United Nations
America only has observer status at the council and didn’t take part in the discussion. But its mission to the United Nations in Geneva released a declaration after the vote, saying it profoundly regretted the movement.
The statement said that it is deeply unfortunate that while they and others have been working to support and strengthen the cease-fire, ensure humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip, and continue the effort of discussions to achieve long-term peace, some members of the UN Human Rights Council have selected to engage in a distraction that adds nothing to continuing diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. The statement added the move today instead threatens to imperil the advancement that has been made in past weeks.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli PM, criticized the action as one more example of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s blatant anti-Israel obsession. But Palestine’s Foreign Ministry stated it reflected the determination of the global community to move forward in the path of answerability, law enforcement, and Palestinian Human Rights protection.
Meanwhile, Hamas called for immediate steps to penalize Israel.
The vote came after Antony Blinken, US State Secretary, finished a three-day visit to the Middle East. He visited the West Bank Tuesday, calling for the cease-fire to be strengthened and promising assistance for reconstructing the Gaza strip.
He said America was working with the global community, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Israeli state to help in the recovery and relief efforts in Gaza, including 5.5 million dollars in immediate disaster aid.