Arab nations call for UN rights probe into Israeli attacks
Draft resolution sponsored by Group of Arab states, Organization of Islamic Conference calls on Human Rights Council to ‘dispatch high level fact-finding mission urgently to Beit Hanoun to investigate human rights violations resulting from recent IDF assaults’
Arab and Islamic countries have called on the UN Human Rights Council to launch an urgent probe into Israel's recent military operations into the Gaza Strip and the deadly attack on Palestinian homes in Beit Hanoun.
The move came Wednesday in a one-day session of the UN's top human rights assembly called by Bahrain and Pakistan with the backing of 23 other countries.
A draft resolution sponsored by the Group of Arab states and the Organization of Islamic Conference called on the 47-member Council to "dispatch a high level fact-finding mission urgently to Beit Hanun," according to a copy obtained by AFP.
The mission would "investigate human rights violations resulting from the recent Israeli assaults including the killings of civilians."
The resolution is due to be put to a vote later in the day.
The text expresses "shock at the horror of Israeli targeting and killing of Palestinian civilians in Beit Hanoun" and condemned the action.
It also called for "urgent international action" to halt "gross and systematic violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people" including those occurring during "the series of incessant and repeated Israeli military incursions."
An Israeli minister warned Wednesday that the four-month offensive in the Gaza Strip could be expanded after an Israeli woman was killed by Palestinian rocket fire from the area.
'Attacks feed the cycle of violence'
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Yitzhak Levanon, said in response that the responsibility for the situation in Gaza lies with the Palestinians, who are "incessantly firing rockets toward civilian communities."
“The Palestinians must change their policy from a path of violence to one of cooperation and peace,” he said. “We are not in need of a UN fact-finding team, but rather of a bold Palestinian decision to change its path of hatred and violence.”
The special session is the third held by the Council on an urgent situation under powers granted to the new body when it was set up in spring.
The two others both dealt with Israeli military operations, in Gaza in July, and on Lebanon in August, and voted to set up probes despite western opposition.
On each occasion they were called by Arab and Islamic members of the Council, with the backing of China, Cuba, Russia and South Africa.
An Arab-sponsored draft resolution in the UN Security Council that would have condemned Israel's deadly attack in the Gaza Strip was vetoed by the United States last week.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour is aiming to visit Beit Hanun, where 18 civilians were killed in Israeli shelling of their homes, during a mission to Israel and Palestinian territories next week.
An initial Israeli military investigation blamed a technical failure of the artillery radar for the incident.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has condemned Wednesday's Qassam attack on Sderot.
“The attacks on civilians are not allowed according to international humanitarian law; they also feed the cycle of violence which causes loss, suffering, and anguish," the organization said in a statement.