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A woman kneels next to a building that was destroyed by airstrikes
Hundreds of buildings were destroyed in air-strikes during the 11-day conflict between Israel and HamasImage: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

UN Rights Council to launch Gaza probe

May 27, 2021

Israel said it would not cooperate with a UN probe into possible war crimes committed during the conflict.


The top UN rights body passed a resolution on Thursday to investigate crimes that may have been committed during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza this month.

The vote came after UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Israeli strikes and activities against Palestinian forces potentially amounted to war crimes.

At the same time, she condemned Palestinian militant group Hamas for breaching international law.

The 11-day war killed at least 248 Palestinians in Gaza and 12 people in Israel. 

The UN Human Rights Council passed the resolution by a 24-9 vote, with 14 abstentions. Germany voted against the measure.

Israel, Palestinians, US react 

In a series of tweets, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a "shameful decision" that "makes a mockery of international law and encourages terrorists worldwide."

The US, which has observer status on the council, also said it "regretted" the vote.

"The action today instead threatens to imperil the progress that has been made," the US mission to the UN in Geneva said in a statement.

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the resolution, saying it served as "international recognition of Israel's systemic oppression and discrimination against the Palestinian people.''

A spokesman for Hamas called the militant group's actions "legitimate resistance" and urged "immediate steps to punish" Israel.

What does the resolution say?

The resolution was brought by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries during a special UN Human Rights Council session.

The document calls for the council's first-ever permanent commission of inquiry to be set up to report on rights violations in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

The text said the commission would also be tasked with investigating "all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict,'' including discrimination and repression.

How did other countries respond?

British ambassador Simon Manley said the commission's "overly expansive mandate ... risks hardening positions on both sides.''

Russian envoy Olga Vorontsova said the resolution "has the goal of establishing all of the facts behind all alleged violations in the latest period.''

Austrian ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger lamented that the special session "continues the regrettable practice of singling out Israel for criticism in the Human Rights Council.''

nm/dj (Reuters, AP)

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