A Palestinian demonstrator uses a sling to hurl back a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence.
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
The 40th session of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, scheduled to open this week, is set to assail Israel in a series of harsh reports. At least one of the five to seven reports will accuse the Jewish state of “war crimes” over the IDF’s response to violent Palestinian protests on the Gaza border last year.
According to the pro-Israel watchdog group UN Watch, other reports will accuse Israel of human rights violations in the West Bank and on the Golan Heights, and could blacklist companies doing business in territories captured by Israel in the Six Day War.
Calling it “a world record,” UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said the UNHRC is again singling out Israel “while giving a free pass to the world’s worst abusers.
“The March 18 assault will culminate in five biased resolutions condemning Israel, the drafts of which have been obtained by UN Watch,” the organization said. “Iran, North Korea and Syria will get only one resolution each, while there will be none on Turkey, Zimbabwe, China, Pakistan and other oppressive regimes.”
The main focus of the meeting is expected to be the findings of an investigation that the council approved in May into the killing by IDF security forces of some 190 Palestinians and the wounding of more than 6,000 in riots along the Gaza border last year, from their start on March 30 through to December 31.
UN investigators, led by Argentina’s Santiago Canton, allege that Israeli security forces may have committed “war crimes.” Israel refused to cooperate with the probe, accusing Gaza’s Hamas regime of using the protests as a cover to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel.
An early version of the report was released in Geneva last month, when the UNHRC’s commission of inquiry into Israel’s “assault” on legitimate “civilian protests” on the Gaza border condemned the Jewish state for committing “crimes against humanity.”
In what could have dire consequences for IDF officers and soldiers, the report calls on countries across the world to “arrest persons alleged to have committed the international crimes” and subject them to individual sanctions such as a travel ban and an assets freeze.
The report urges High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who was appointed last year, to “manage the dossiers on the alleged perpetrators” provided to national and international tribunals, including the International Criminal Court.
IDF troops “intentionally shot children, they intentionally shot people with disabilities, they intentionally shot journalists,” charged commissioner Sara Hossain of Bangladesh.
UN Watch voiced deep disappointment that its detailed submissions to the panel defending Israeli actions were ignored by the council, which gave “a free pass to Hamas terrorists.”
The upcoming UNHRC session is also expected to include the publication of a list of companies operating in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, potentially exposing them to legal action abroad.
The UNHRC first voted in 2016 for the creation of the database, intended to list all companies doing business with Israelis in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan, but its release has since been repeatedly delayed.
Major companies, including Africa Israel, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bezeq, Coca Cola, Hot, Teva, Egged, Mekorot and Elbit have been informed they could be on the new blacklist.
Israel is not a member of the 47-nation UNHRC. The US withdrew in June and later stopped funding the organization, partly over what Washington termed its “unrelenting bias” against Jerusalem.
It is somewhat ironic that this year, the UNHRC action against Israel comes ahead of the Purim holiday on March 21. As recorded in the Book of Esther, Purim celebrates the rescue of the Jewish people from Haman during the ancient Achaemenid Persian Empire.
We urge the UNHRC to change its course and consider standing by Israel’s side against the Iranian-funded terrorists bent on destroying it – such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
A good first step would be a condemnation of the rockets that targeted Tel Aviv Thursday night and have regularly targeted the South of Israel for over a decade.
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