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UN votes to send international war crimes probe to Gaza

© Fabrice Coffrini / AFP | UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein attends a special session of the UN Human Rights Council to discuss the human rights situation in Gaza, after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians, on May 18, 2018.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2018-05-19

The UN Human Rights Council voted Friday to send a team of international war crimes investigators to investiage the deadly shootings of Gaza protesters by Israeli forces.

With 29 votes in favour, two opposed and 14 abstentions, the UN's top human rights body voted through a resolution calling on the council to "urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry... to investigate all alleged violations and abuses... in the context of the military assaults on large scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018".

The special session of the Human Rights Council was convened after the bloodiest day for Palestinians in years last Monday, when 60 were killed by Israeli gunfire during demonstrations that Israel said included attempts to breach its frontier fence.

The session received a draft resolution put forward by Pakistan and other Muslim countries that included a call for the council to dispatch an "independent, international commission of inquiry".

John Zarocostas reports from Geneva

Top human rights official, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, spoke in Geneva on Friday saying, "There is little evidence of any attempt to minimise casualties on Monday."

Some demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, used sling-shots, flew burning kites into Israel, and attempted to use wire-cutters on border fences, but "these actions alone do not appear to constitute the imminent threat to life or deadly injury which could justify the use of lethal force", Zeid added.

He said that "the stark contrast in casualties on both sides is also suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response".

'A wholly disproportionate response,' says UN

Israel and the United States have repeatedly accused the 47-member council of anti-Israel bias.

Israeli ambassador Aviva Raz Schechter said Friday's session and the call for a commission of inquiry "are yet again politically motivated and won't improve the situation on the ground by even one iota".

"The loss of life could have been avoided had Hamas refrained from sending terrorists to attack Israel under the cover of the riots, while exploiting its own civilian population as human shields," she said. "It is Israel, certainly not Hamas, which makes a real effort to minimise casualties among Palestinian civilians."

"It is regrettable that so many member states allow themselves to be misled by the false narrative of so-called peaceful protests," Schechter added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2018-05-18

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