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

April 5, 2024 at 10:51 am

A view of the area where Al-Shifa Hospital and its surrounding are located in Gaza City, Gaza on April 01, 2024 [Dawoud Abo Alkas – Anadolu Agency]

The United Nations Human Rights Council today adopted a resolution calling for Israel to be held accountable for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip, Reuters reported.

Twenty-eight countries voted in favour, 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.”

The United States had pledged to vote against the resolution because it did not contain a specific condemnation of Hamas. It did, however, say that 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 Michele 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.”

The UN Human Rights 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.

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