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Photo: AFP
Mary McGowan Davis
Photo: AFP

Israel, Palestinians say will investigate Gaza war crime accusations

UNHRC debates report that accused both Israel and Palestinians of humanitarian abuses; Israel believes majority will vote to adopt report and form monitoring mechanism.

Israel and the Palestinians promised on Monday to investigate alleged war crimes committed by their forces during the 2014 Gaza war, amid growing calls for an end to impunity on both sides.

 

 

During an often virulent three-hour debate at the UN Human Rights Council, boycotted by Israel, the president of the Geneva forum rebuked envoys of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for referring to Israel as a "racist regime" and its "genocidal aggression".

 

The United Nation's international investigation commission submitted its report on Operation Protective Edge to the UNHRC in Geneva on Monday

 

Pro-Israel protest outside the UN Human Rights Council (Photo: EPA)
Pro-Israel protest outside the UN Human Rights Council (Photo: EPA)

"This report will be another source of information for our internal investigation," Eviatar Manor, Israel's ambassador, told reporters inside the UNbuilding in Geneva as hundreds of pro-Israeli supporters demonstrated outside.

 

Pro-Israel protest outside the UN Human Rights Council (Photo: EPA)
Pro-Israel protest outside the UN Human Rights Council (Photo: EPA)

 

"A substantial number of cases have been reviewed, investigated and closed. There are about 100 cases which are still open. Alleged war crimes are very, very serious crimes."

 

Pro-Israel protest outside the UN Human Rights Council (Photo: EPA) (Photo: EPA)
Pro-Israel protest outside the UN Human Rights Council (Photo: EPA)

 

Investigations had to be serious and comprehensive "before indictments are being prepared so that the indictments will also carry with them weight and assure prosecution", Manor said.

 

Israel's Ambassador Eviatar Manor (Photo: EPA)
Israel's Ambassador Eviatar Manor (Photo: EPA)

  

The commission determined that one third of Gaza dead during Protective Edge were children and urged both sides to cooperate with International Criminal Court investigations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the report biased.

 

Pro-Israel protest outside the UN Human Rights Council (Photo: EPA)
Pro-Israel protest outside the UN Human Rights Council (Photo: EPA)

 

Mary McGowan Davis, chair of the UN commission on the inquiry, told the forum Israel's Military Advocate General "incorrectly applied international humanitarian law by reversing the presumption of civilian status in case of doubt.

 

"This example does not augur well for the investigative process," she said.

 

Mary McGowan Davis at the discussion (Photo: Reuters)
Mary McGowan Davis at the discussion (Photo: Reuters)

 

The Palestinian Authority last week submitted its first evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes to the International Criminal Court, trying to speed up an ICC inquiry into abuses.

 

Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi told the council: "It is important to operate universal jurisdiction as long as Israel continues this pattern."

 

The Palestinian Authority was discussing setting up a committee to probe allegations of violations by Gaza militants, in line with the UN recommendations, he said. "This would show we are completely willing to uphold our legal commitments."

 

Vote at UNHRC

The shape of the draft resolution that will be brought to vote is still unclear, and recent days have seen behind-the-scenes efforts to forge a solid proposal. Pakistan was set to present - in the name of the council's Islamic bloc - a proposal to adopt the report and send it to an international body such as the UN General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretary General, or the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

 

Israel believes the proposal will pass a vote and support a mechanism to monitor its application. Jerusalem and its allies have already declared their opposition to any formulation that calls for putting the report before the Security Council.

 

The UN Human Rights Council discussing the report (Photo: Reuters)
The UN Human Rights Council discussing the report (Photo: Reuters)

 

Israel has asked members of the Human Rights Council to oppose the report or least refrain from voting.

 

Last week, the Foreign Ministry launched a diplomatic campaign aimed at convincing as many of the 47 council members as possible to vote against the report of the investigative commission's report.

 

Pro-Israel protest outside the UN Human Rights Council (Photo: EPA)
Pro-Israel protest outside the UN Human Rights Council (Photo: EPA)

 

The Foreign Ministry's European Deputy Director-General Aviv Shir-On urged his staff to convince the European representatives to voice opposition to the report and the framework in which it was created. He stressed on the commission's "distorted" authority and its generally negative attitude towards Israel.

 

Alongside the council's debate, two pro-Israel organizations - NGO Monitor and UN Watch - were shceduled to hold expert panels that will analyze the report from a military standpoint, the issue of international justice and the structure of international terrorist groups. The panel will include various experts to provide other perspectives on the UN report.

 

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 06.29.15, 11:01
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