UNHRC: both sides may have committed war crimes in Gaza

Published July 4th, 2015 - 08:30 GMT

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday voted to a adopt a UN report on last summer's war in the Gaza Strip that found all sides may have committed war crimes.

The UNHRC resolution welcomed the report, calling for "the implementation of all recommendations" included in it.

It noted the importance of the information the commission collected for supporting "future accountability efforts, in particular, information on alleged perpetrators of violations of international law." 

The Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict announced last month that it had gathered "credible allegations" that both Israeli and Palestinian sides had committed war crimes during the conflict, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 people on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

The report decried the "huge firepower" used in Gaza, with Israel launching more than 6,000 airstrikes and firing 50,000 artillery shells during the 51-day operation.

It also criticized the "indiscriminate" firing of thousands of rockets and mortar rounds at Israel, which it said appeared to be have been intended to "spread terror" among Israeli civilians.

The commission was not granted entry to Israel or the conflict area, and relied instead on more than 280 confidential interviews and some 500 written submissions for its findings.

UNHRC's resolution on Friday said it was important "that all those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law are held to account through appropriate fair and independent domestic or international criminal justice mechanisms." 

In particular, it called on "the parties concerned to cooperate fully with the preliminary examination of the International Criminal Court and with any subsequent investigation that may be opened." 

Palestine joined the ICC in April and has been seeking to open criminal proceedings against Israel as part of an increased focus on international diplomacy, with much of their focus on last summer's devastating war.

Last week, the Palestinian Authority presented the first batch of evidence to the ICC in support of its bid to have Israel investigated for alleged war crimes

Israel immediately denounced UNHRC's resolution on Friday, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu writing on his Twitter feed: "The UN Human Rights Council is not interested in the facts and is not really interested in human rights."

He alleged: "The UNHRC decides to condemn Israel for no fault of its own, for acting to defend itself from a murderous terrorist organization."

The Israeli foreign ministry previously stated: "In defending itself against attacks, Israel's military acted according to the highest international standards." 

Netanyahu added: "The council that has adopted more decisions against Israel than against all other countries cannot call itself a human rights council."

The ICC, set up in 2002, is the world's only permanent independent body to try the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.

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