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Israel demands disbanding of UN committee investigating attacks on Gaza

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on 23 June 2022 [Cem Özdel/Anadolu Agency]
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on 23 June 2022 [Cem Özdel/Anadolu Agency]

Israel demanded on Sunday the disbanding of the UN committee investigating crimes committed during the occupation state's military offensive against Gaza in May last year. It is alleged that remarks made by one member of the committee were "anti-Semitic".

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid made the demand in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in which he referred to the statements by Miloon Kothari, a member of the UN Human Rights Council's Commission of Inquiry, in a media interview.

"We are very disheartened by the social media that is controlled largely by, whether it is the Jewish lobby or specific NGOs," Kothari said on a Mondoweiss podcast on 25 July. "A lot of money is being thrown into trying to discredit us."

Israel boycotted the investigation and prevented the commission's investigators from entering the apartheid state. It claimed that the commission's partial findings in June were "the latest in a series of biased reports."

In his letter to Guterres, Lapid claimed that, "The fight against anti-Semitism cannot be waged with words alone, it requires action. This is the time for action; it is time to disband the Commission. This Commission does not just endorse antisemitism — it fuels it."

The UN spokesman did not respond immediately to requests for comment, but Mondoweiss published a message from the committee's chair, Navi Pillay, in which she said that Kothari's comments were intentionally taken out of context.

READ: Israel occupation imposes prison sentence for vandalising apartheid wall

The US and other Western countries, including Germany, Britain and Austria, denounced — very predictably — Kothari's comments as "anti-Semitic".

The US representative to the UN Human Rights Council, Ambassador Michele Taylor, tweeted, "We are outraged by recent anti-Semitic, anti-Israel comments made by a member of the Israel COI. These unacceptable remarks sadly exacerbate our deep concerns about the open-ended nature & overly broad scope of the COI and the HRC's disproportionate & biased treatment of Israel."

Although the commission was set up to investigate the Israeli attack on Gaza, which lasted 11 days in May last year, its mandate includes human rights violations before and after that, in addition to investigating the root causes of the tension.

At least 250 Palestinians as well as 13 people in Israel were killed during the Israeli aggression, which saw severe Israeli attacks and raids that exacerbated the destruction caused by the 2014 military offensive. Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip fired several thousand rockets in response to Israel's ongoing brutal military occupation and siege.

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