Israel denounces UNHRC as ‘kangaroo court’

Council to probe Israeli "war crimes" after holding a special emergency session in Geneva on the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

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July 24, 2014 01:03
3 minute read.
OVERVIEW OF the Human Rights Council at the UNHRC

UNHRC 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Israel attacked as a “travesty” a UN decision on Wednesday to probe its actions against Hamas in Gaza on the same day that the terrorist organization launched 80 rockets against it, targeting civilian areas.

“This investigation by a kangaroo court is a foregone conclusion,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

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The United Nations Human Rights Council ordered the probe after holding a special emergency session in Geneva on the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. The US was the only one of 47-member states to oppose the probe, while 29 countries approved it. Another 17 states abstained, including Israel’s European allies – the UK, Germany and France – who have verbally backed Israel against Hamas.

Among those countries who supported the probe were Russia, China, India, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.

Prior to the vote, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that Israel could be committing war crimes in Gaza.

“There seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated in a manner that could amount to war crimes,” she told the UNHRC.

The head of the UNHRC is scheduled to appoint an “international commission of inquiry” to look at Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories, with a focus on Gaza, but including the West Bank and east Jerusalem, since the June 12 Palestinian kidnapping of three Israeli teens.

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The commission is tasked with identifying those responsible for “violations of international humanitarian law,” and with holding the violators accountable and ending their impunity.

Israel said such a probe only emboldens Hamas and encourages its policy of using civilians as human shields.

“Rather than investigate Hamas, which is committing a double war crime by firing rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians, the UNHRC calls for an investigation of Israel,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

According to the IDF, Hamas has launched 2,249 rockets against Israel over the past 16 days. The UNHRC should be investigating Hamas’s use of hospitals as military command centers, schools as a weapons depots and its placement of missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes and mosques, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“The UNHRC is sending a message to Hamas and terrorist organizations everywhere that using civilians as human shields is an effective strategy,” it said.

The Prime Minister’s Office equated this probe to the infamous UNHRC Goldstone Report on Israel’s military incursion into Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, known as Operation Cast Lead.

“The predictable result will be the libeling of Israel and even greater use of human shields in the future by Hamas,” said the Prime Minister’s Office. “Those who will pay the price will be not only Israelis but also Palestinians who Hamas will redouble its efforts to use as human shields in the future.”

But Pillay told the council that the loss of life in Gaza was disproportionate to the threat facing Israel. Since July 7, Israel has bombed Gaza from the land, sea and air, resulting in the deaths of 600 Palestinians including 147 children and 74 women, she said.

“As we saw during the two previous crises in 2009 and 2012, it is innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip, including children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities, who are suffering the most,” Pillay said.

Preliminary UN figures show that 74% of those killed by IDF attacks in Gaza have been civilians, she said.

“Hundreds of homes and other civilian buildings, such as schools, have been destroyed or severely damaged in Gaza, and more than 140,000 Palestinians have been displaced as a result,” Pillay said. She condemned Hamas’s indiscriminate launching of rockets against Israel that endangers Israelis, killing three civilians in the past 16 days.

“I further emphasize that it is unacceptable [for Hamas] to locate military assets in densely populated areas or to launch attacks from such areas. However, international law is clear: The actions of one party do not absolve the other party of the need to respect its obligations under international law.

“Even where a home is identified as being used for military purposes, any attack must be proportionate, offer a definite military advantage in the prevailing circumstances at the time, and precautions must be taken,” she said.

In the wake of Pillay’s comments and approval of the probe, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman labeled the UNHRC as the “council for the rights of terrorists.”

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