GENEVA - The United Nations Human Rights Council agreed on Wednesday to launch an international inquiry into human rights violations that it says may have been committed during Israel's ongoing military operation in Gaza.

At the end of an emergency session, the 47-member Geneva state forum adopted a resolution presented by Palestinians by a vote of 29 states in favor, 1 against (the United States) with 17 abstentions (including some European Union members).



Justice Minister Tzipi Livni condemned the UNHRC decision as "applauding terror" and stressed that Israel would continue to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of its citizens.

The Prime Minister's Office released a response to the decision which stated that rather than investigate Israel it should probe Hamas, as the PMO said the terror group was committing a double war crime by firing rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians. 

The PMO was critical of the the UNHRC decision that calls for an investigation of Israel, which the government stressed has gone to unprecedented lengths to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm's way, including by dropping leaflets, making phone calls and sending text messages days in before making its military advance.

The decision came after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, opening an emergency debate at the UNHRC, condemned indiscriminate firing of rockets and mortars by Palestinian terrorists into Israel.

Citing cases of Israeli air strikes and shelling hitting houses and hospitals in the coastal enclave, she said: "These 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.”
 

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