UN rights council to form commission to investigate war crimes in Gaza

[JURIST] The United Nations Human Rights Council [official website] on Wednesday announced [press release] its intention to create an international commission of inquiry that will investigate all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Specifically the inquiry will focus on violations that may have been committed during Israel's latest military offensive in Gaza. During an emergency session held on Wednesday the Council adopted the plan to create the investigation team by a vote of 29-1, with 17 countries abstaining. The sole negative vote came from the US. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile], who had previously warned [JURIST report] that Israel may have committed war crimes in its offensive against Hamas in the Gaza strip, told those in attendance that Israel had not done enough to protect civilians. She stated [Reuters report] that Israeli airstrikes and shelling hitting houses and hospitals "are just a few examples where there seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes. Every one of these incidents must be properly and independently investigated."

The creation of a unified Palestinian government comes as tensions have risen in the Levant between Palestine and Israel. Last month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon [official website] urged [JURIST report] Israel to release Palestinian administrative detainees over fears of failing health in a hunger strike. In April an independent UN human rights expert urged [JURIST report] Israel to prevent settlers from taking over a building in the West Bank city of Hebron. The house was strategically located between the illegal Israel settlement of Kiryat Arba and the Ibrahami Mosque, and Israeli settlement in the building had caused an increase in violence and harassment against Palestinians in the area. Also in April the United Nations confirmed [JURIST report] that Palestinian officials have delivered letters of accession to 15 international conventions and treaties.

 

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