The UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said during the Council meeting that the violent Israel airstrike attacks on the Gaza strip might constitute “war crimes” if found disproportionate.
“Although reportedly targeting members of armed groups and their military infrastructure, the Israeli attacks resulted in extensive civilian deaths and injuries, as well as large-scale destruction and damage to civilian objects,” Bachelet said during the recent UN Human Rights Council.
The 11-day airstrike in Gaza resulted in over 200 Palestinian deaths, 66 of those were children, and close to 2,000 were injured.
While Israel claimed that the attacks toward buildings, medical facilities, and media offices were targeted because they were being used for military purposes, evidence shows otherwise, according to Bachelet.
Forming an Investigation Team
During the meeting, the council passed a resolution that would create an international investigation team or a “Commission of Inquiry” that would look into the recent airstrike attack on Gaza, and more broadly, at the systemic abuse in the Palestinian territories inside Israel. Creating a Commission of Inquiry is an effective means to track and report human rights violations in the region. The resolution also had a provision that called on states to refrain from providing weapons to Israel as they may be used to commit crimes that violate humanitarian law.
The Investigation team’s findings would ensure that Israel is held accountable for its actions. The investigation as a whole would serve as a means to persevere evidence for future cases brought before the International Criminal Court.
The resolution passed with 24 in favor, nine against, and 14 abstentions.
Undoubtedly, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was against the resolution and said the following in a statement: “Today’s shameful decision is yet another example of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s blatant anti-Israel obsession,” He added that “this travesty makes a mockery of international law and encourages terrorists worldwide.”
The Palestinian Authority is firmly in favor of the resolution and views this step as an international acknowledgment of Israel’s oppression and discrimination against the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that not holding Israel accountable for its crimes will only enable them to commit these acts against the Palestinians.
Saleh Hijazi, Middle East and North Africa deputy regional director of Amnesty International said that holding Israel accountable is the “real test” for the European Union countries to put their words into actions and “not make Israel an exception when it comes to human rights and respect for international law.”
The current issue of the IELR will have a more comprehensive discussion of the report and its implications.