UN Human Rights Chief: Israel May Be Committing War Crimes in Gaza

Despite Israeli lobbying, Palestinians have managed to call for a vote on Wednesday on severe condemnation of IDF operation in Gaza.

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South African Navanethem 'Navi' Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in February 2011.
South African Navanethem 'Navi' Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in February 2011.Credit: AP

The UN human rights chief said Wednesday during an emergency meeting that Israel may be committing war crimes in Gaza.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that incidents during fighting in Gaza raise concerns for alleged war crimes and should be investigated.

Moreover, Pillay expressed concern regarding the "rise of incitement for violence against Palestinians by Israelis" on social media.

Speaking at the emergency meeting in Geneva, Israel's envoy to the UNHRC, Eviatar Manor, charged that the UN Human Rights Council "failed to protect the human rights of Israelis."

Manor went on to say that the residents of Gaza were not Israel's enemies and that Israel was committed to international law. He charged the council of "pouring oil on the fire."

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki urged world powers to intervene in the conflict. "Israel is perpetrating huge crimes in Gaza. It is killing whole families," he said. "Israel must be held accountable for its crimes.".

The Palestinians and Arab countries have filed the Council with a draft, which includes the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to probe alleged war crimes and violations of international law by Israel. The draft does not mention Hamas.

Despite Israeli lobbying with the Council's member states to prevent the meeting taking place, the Palestinians managed to get the signatures necessary to hold the meeting.

The U.S., most of the EU states and additional Western states, including Australia and Canada, are expected to oppose the draft. However, like in other UN bodies, the Palestinians hold an automatic majority which allows them to pass any resolution.

Wednesday's vote follows a similar process to the one which followed Israel's Operation Cast Lead in 2009, after which the Goldstone Commission was established. The Commission's report caused Israel severe diplomatic and public image damage, and gave a boost to calls for its boycott worldwide.

If the resolution is passed, a process will be launched in which the inquiry commission's mandate will be determined, as well as its composition and timetable. Israel and the U.S. will attempt to delay its establishment for as long as possible or act for its mandate to be as limited as possible.

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