UN Human Rights Council rebukes Israel on Gaza
Council adopts resolution presented by Arab, Muslim states demanding Israel lift week-long blockade of Strip. ‘Israel’s siege, raids in Gaza constitute war crimes,’ PA envoy to UN in Geneva says.
GENEVA, Switzerland – The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday demanded Israel lift its week-long blockade of Gaza, rebuking the Jewish state for the third time for violations in the Palestinian territories since the forum was set up in 2006.
The 47-member Council adopted a resolution presented by Arab and Muslim states by a vote of 30 states in favor and one against with 15 abstentions, and one delegation absent.
Mohammed Abu-Koash, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the talks at a special emergency session called to address conditions the Palestinian territories, that Israel’s siege and raids in Gaza constituted “war crimes”.
“We hope the resolution will trigger international pressure and action to lift the Israeli siege and restore supplies of food, fuel and medicine, open border crossings and end repeated Israeli military attacks throughout the occupied Palestinian territory,” he said.
Israel, facing frequent rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, tightened its border closure last week. It briefly halted fuel delivery to a Gaza power station and cut supplies to petrol stations, and blocked food and other humanitarian aid.
‘Israel turned Gaza into a huge prison’
The Israeli army estimates about 250 rockets and mortar rounds have pounded Israel since last week. Israeli troops killed more than 30 Palestinians over the same period.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, in a speech on Wednesday, denounced Israel’s “Disproportionate use of force and targeted killings” As well as Palestinian militants’ firing of rockets into Israel.
Arbour, a former UN War crimes prosecutor, told the forum that international law forbids collective punishment and said Israel should lift all restrictions on aid intended for Gaza.
“All parties concerned should put an end to the vicious spiral of violence before it becomes unstoppable,” she warned.
Delegations from the United States and Israel, which both have observer status at the Council, boycotted the two-day session, diplomats said.
Most of those abstaining from the vote were Western states, including France, Germany and Britain. UN Security Council members China and Russia supported the resolution, and Canada was the lone vote against it.
Syria’s ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, speaking on behalf of Arab states and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), accused Israel of turning Gaza into a “huge prison”.
“The real aim of Israel from these aggressions and crimes is to deliberately abort all Arab and international efforts to invigorate the peace process,” he charged.
Egypt’s envoy Sameh Shoukry, speaking for African countries, urged Arbour’s office to conduct more regular visits to the Palestinian territories and report more extensively “On all violations emanating from the Israeli occupation”.
UN Press Release (Canada’s Statement)
TERRY CORMIER (Canada) said Canada was deeply concerned by the deteriorating humanitarian situation facing Palestinians and the continuing attacks targeted at Israeli citizens. Israel was urged to comply with its obligations under international law and to take all measures to protect civilians in Gaza and the West Bank. Unfortunately, neither this resolution nor the current session addressed the role of both parties. It was regretful that the current draft resolution did not condemn the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. The mandate of the Council was clearly to protect the rights of all. As the proposed resolution did not respect this, Canada would vote against the draft resolution.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Sixth special session
Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference) and the Syrian
Arab Republic* (on behalf of the Group of Arab States): draft resolution
S-6/… Human rights violations emanating from Israeli military attacks and incursions, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip
The Human Rights Council,
Guided by the principles and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights,
Affirming the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Recognizing that the Israeli military attacks and incursions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly the recent ones in the occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Nablus, constitute grave violations of the human and humanitarian rights of the Palestinian civilians therein, exacerbate the severe humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and undermine international efforts, including the Annapolis Conference and the Paris Donors’ Conference for the Palestinian State, aimed at invigorating the peace process and establishing a viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State by the end of 2008,
Recognizing also that the Israeli siege imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip, including the closure of the border crossings and the cutting of the supply of fuel, food and medicine, constitutes collective punishment of the Palestinian civilians and leads to disastrous humanitarian and environmental consequences,
1. Expresses grave concern at the repeated Israeli military attacks carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, which have resulted in loss of life and injuries among Palestinian civilians, including women and children;
2. Calls for urgent international action to put an immediate end to the grave violations committed by the occupying Power, Israel, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the series of incessant and repeated Israeli military attacks and incursions therein and the siege of the occupied Gaza Strip;
3. Demands that the occupying Power, Israel, lift immediately the siege it has imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip, restore continued supply of fuel, food and medicine and reopen the border crossings;
4. Calls for immediate protection of the Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in compliance with human rights law and international humanitarian law;
5. Urges all parties concerned to respect the rules of human rights law and international humanitarian law and to refrain from violence against the civilian population;
6. Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Council, at its next session, on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.
* Non-member State of the Human Rights Council