Israel calls for rejection of U.N. Human Rights Council inquiry

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel’s government called for the rejection of a U.N. Human Rights Council inquiry into the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The council on Wednesday voted to launch an inquiry into “all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law” in Palestinian areas, particularly the Gaza Strip, where Israel and Hamas have been at war since July 8.

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Prior to the vote, Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Hamas and Israel were likely both guilty of war crimes.

In making the case against Israel, she cited the deaths of children, mentioning the killing of four who were playing on a beach and three who were playing on a rooftop.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office faulted the resolution for not singling out what it said was Hamas’ practice of endangering Palestinian civilians by placing its fighters and weapons among them.

“The decision today by the UNHRC is a travesty and should be rejected by decent people everywhere,” Netanyahu’s office said.

“The UNHRC should be launching an investigation into Hamas’s decision to turn hospitals into military command centers, use schools as weapons depots and place missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes and mosques,” it said.

A similar inquiry, the Goldstone report, launched after the 2008-2009 Israel-Hamas war, led to calls for war crimes charges against Israeli officials. Israel would not cooperate with that inquiry.

Its lead author, South African Judge Richard Goldstone, eventually renounced the report, acknowledging some conclusions were colored by anti-Israel bias.

In Wednesday’s UNHRC vote, 29 nations voted for the resolution, one – the United States – voted against, and there were 17 abstentions, including a number of European nations.

Israel and the United States have faulted the Human Rights Council for its lopsided focus on Israel.

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