Monday, August 20, 2018

UNHCR to investigate Israeli killing unarmed protesters in Gaza


By Annelies Verbeek - May 23, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UN] [Human rights] [Gaza]

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution on Friday May 18, ruling on the dispatch of a team of investigators to probe into possible Israeli war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

The resolution was approved in a special session, convened in response to the killing of protesters in Gaza during the Great March of Return, which started March 30. Israeli army snipers have been shooting peaceful protesters gathered along the border fence, demanding their right of return to the lands their ancestors were expelled from in 1948.
 
The UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein addressed the session, calling Israel’s actions “a wholly disproportionate response.”
 
He affirmed that Israel is failing to meet its obligations under international law as an occupying power - to protect the population of Gaza. “Instead,” Al Hussein said, “they [Gazans] are caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; dehumanised by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials don’t even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest.”
 
Al Hussein continued to slam other illegal measures taken by Israel in all of the occupied Palestinian territories. These include settlement building, measures of collective punishment, forced displacement, child detention, and detention without trial. He expressed his full support for an impartial investigation into Israeli violations, “in the hope that the truth regarding this matters will lead to justice.”
 
The resolution was passed with 29 countries voting for. 14 countries abstained. The United States and Australia were the only two member states to vote no.
 
The resolution echoed Al Hussein’s sharp language, condemning Israeli violations of international law in all the occupied Palestinian territories. It decided on sending an independent commission of inquiry to investigate Israeli violations, with an emphasis on the occupied Gaza Strip, “in the context of the military assaults on the ... protests [beginning] on 30 March 2018.”
 
“We are happy about this resolution,” Tahsin Aliyan, Program Director at Al Haq told the Palestine Monitor, “despite the fact that we believe human rights should not be voted on. We cannot comprehend that a state would vote against the formation of a commission of inquiry to investigate possible crimes.”
 
He affirmed that whether this investigation will result in justice, is dependent on the political will of the international community. “This is not the first commission of inquiry into possible Israeli war crimes,” he explained. “But the political will of the international community to bring perpetrators to justice has been lacking.”
 
The investigation could help the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague with its preliminary investigations.
 
Sources have confirmed that the ICC is looking into whether it can try Israel for crimes in Gaza. Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the ICC, released a statement April 8, warning Israel that the ICC is watching closely, and that the situation is under preliminary examination.
 
Aliyan explained that if any perpetrators of crimes will be brought to justice, it will be through the ICC. The Human Rights Council does not have the capacity or power to prosecute perpetrators. “We hope the commission of inquiry into the Gaza Strip will help the ICC with its preliminary examinations, so maybe there can be justice,” Aliyan added.
 
The commission of inquiry will produce a final report on its findings next March.
 

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