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UNHRC establishes an International Commission of Inquiry for Gaza

23 July 2014

The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its Special Session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, after adopting a resolution in which it decided to establish an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

In the resolution, adopted by a vote of 29 States in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions, the Council strongly condemned the failure of Israel, the occupying Power, to end its prolonged occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; and condemned in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 13 June 2014 that may amount to international crimes, directly resulting in the killing of more than 650 Palestinians, most of them civilians and more than 170 of whom were children, the injury of more than 4,000 people and the wanton destruction of homes, vital infrastructure and public properties.

The Council further condemned all violence against civilians wherever it occurred, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of rocket fire. It called for an immediate cessation of Israeli military assaults throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and an end to attacks against all civilians, including Israeli civilians. The Council demanded that Israel immediately and fully end its illegal closure of the occupied Gaza Strip and called upon the international community to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance and services to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

In the resolution, the Council decided to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, and to report to the Council at its twenty-eighth session.
It also recommended that the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as depositary of the Fourth Geneva Convention, promptly reconvene the conference of High Contracting Parties to the Convention.

In the general debate, speakers continued to call for the immediate halt of Israeli operations against civilians and civilian targets in Gaza. Some spoke in support of Israel’s right to defend its population against terrorist attacks, and condemned reprehensible acts, including indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and other armed groups. Others called attention to the fact that children were bearing the brunt of the escalating violence. Israel’s attempts to warn Palestinian civilians to flee areas where terrorist military installations were noted by some speakers, while others said this meant nothing as the inhabitants of Gaza had no place to flee. Many speakers supported the establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry, and some called for a meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Speaking during this afternoon’s debate were representatives of Syria, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Malaysia, Canada, Tunisia, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Iceland Holy See, Sudan, Thailand, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Bahrain, Uruguay, Iran, Switzerland, Malta, Australia, United Nations Children’s Fund, New Zealand, Spain, Niger, Bolivia, Oman, Sri Lanka, African Union, Denmark, Lebanon, Mauritius, Portugal, Norway, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Chad, Iraq, Guinea, Djibouti and Angola.

The Independent Human Rights Commission of Palestine spoke and the following non-governmental organizations took the floor: Independent Human Rights Commission of Palestine, Action Contre la Faim International, Norwegian Refugee Council, BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugees Rights, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights,
Union of Arab Jurists, World Jewish Congress, Defence for Children International,
Human Rights Watch, Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations B’nai B’rith, Save the Children International, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, UN Watch,
Caritas International, International Commission of Jurists, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, European Union of Jewish Students, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, General Arab Women Federation, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Amnesty International, Amuta for NGO Responsibility and Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights.

Pakistan introduced the resolution on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Israel and Palestine took the floor as concerned countries. The United States, Italy on behalf of the European Union, Brazil and Peru spoke in explanations of the vote before the vote. Gabon, Chile and Japan spoke in explanation of the vote after the vote.

This was the twenty-first Special Session of the Human Rights Council. A summary of the first part of the meeting can be found here. Documentation relating to the Special Session, including the resolution, is available on the Human Rights Council webpage. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/HRCIndex.aspx
The twenty-seventh regular session of the Human Rights Council will take place from 8 to 26 September 2014.


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