[JURIST] The United States Saturday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution [draft text and explanations] condemning an Israeli attack on Beit Hanoun [BBC report] in the Gaza Strip on November 8 that resulted in the deaths of at least 18 civilians and calling on Israel "to scrupulously abide by its obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949." The same text called on the Palestinian Authority to "take immediate and sustained action to bring an end to violence, including the firing of rockets on Israeli territory" and requested that the UN Secretary-General establish a fact-finding mission to investigate the incident. The Council vote was 10 in favor, 1 against, with the United Kingdom, Denmark, Japan, and Slovakia abstaining. The US delegation said the resolution was one-sided and that Israel had in any event admitted that the attack was a mistake [Haaretz report].
On Friday, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy [official profile] spoke out against what he called Israel's violations of international humanitarian law in the incident in an interview with Egypt's Al-Ahram. Douste-Blazy emphasized that Israel's right to defend itself must comply with the guidelines of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention [text] on civilian protection. The International Committee of the Red Cross previously deplored the attack [press release], noting that "[i]nternational humanitarian law strictly prohibits attacks against civilians and civilian objects and requires that a strict distinction be made between the civilian population and military objectives." AFP has more.