UNHRC poised to probe Is­rael for ‘war crimes’

In­quiry would fo­cus on re­cent Gaza demon­stra­tions • Liber­man calls to im­me­di­ately with­draw from agency

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By TOVAH LAZAROFF Jerusalem Post Staff con­trib­uted to this re­port.

The United Na­tions Hu­man Rights Coun­cil is poised to launch a “war crimes” probe into Is­raeli ac­tions to quell vi­o­lent ri­ots along the Gaza border over the last seven weeks, which led to the death of 102 Pales­tini­ans.

The UNHRC is ex­pected to vote to dis­patch “an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion of in­quiry” dur­ing a spe­cial ses­sion in Geneva on Fri­day.

Its con­clu­sions are likely to tar­get in­di­vid­ual sol­diers and com­man­ders sta­tioned on the Gaza border.

The com­mis­sion of in­quiry is man­dated to look into “al­leged vi­o­la­tions and abuses in­clud­ing those that may amount to war crimes and to iden­tify those re­spon­si­ble,” ac­cord­ing to the text of the res­o­lu­tion sub­mit­ted on Thurs­day night.

The com­mis­sion should look at “end­ing im­punity and en­sur­ing le­gal ac­count­abil­ity, in­clud­ing in­di­vid­ual crim­i­nal and com­mand re­spon­si­bil­ity, for such vi­o­la­tions,” states the res­o­lu­tion, which de­tails the in­ves­ti­ga­tion’s man­date.

The res­o­lu­tion asks the com­mis­sion of in­quiry to “pro­vide recommendations to pro­tect civil­ians against any fur­ther as­saults.”

The com­mis­sion will also have a very wide man­date to probe Is­raeli ac­tions in the West Bank and east Jerusalem dur­ing that pe­riod.

The in­clu­sion of east Jerusalem into the probe’s man­date im­plies that the US open­ing of its em­bassy in Jerusalem this week could also be in­cluded in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

But the text said the fo­cus would be “par­tic­u­larly in the oc­cu­pied Gaza Strip, in the con­text of the [IDF] mil­i­tary as­saults on large-scale civil­ian protests that be­gan on 30 March 2018.”

The res­o­lu­tion charges that Is­rael used dis­pro­por­tion­ate force along the Gaza border and called on it to end “its il­le­gal clo­sure of the oc­cu­pied Gaza Strip.”

The res­o­lu­tion refers to the Pales­tinian demon­stra­tors and “peace­ful” and makes no men­tion of the vi­o­lent Pales­tinian acts that took place dur­ing those events.

These in­clude burn­ing tires, Molo­tov cock­tails and the launch of flam­ing kites over the border into Is­rael. Nor it did it fo­cus on the nu­mer­ous at­tempts by the Pales­tini­ans to in­fil­trate Is­rael by cut­ting through the border fence.

Is­rael has charged that many of the dead were Ha­mas mem­bers, and even Ha­mas has ac­knowl­edged that this is cor­rect.

The blood­i­est days of the protest, dubbed the Great March of Re­turn that be­gan on March 30, oc­curred on Mon­day of this week when 60 Pales­tini­ans were killed. Since then the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing Canada, has called for an in­ter­na­tional probe into the killings.

Ear­lier this week the US quashed an at­tempt to by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to or­der such a probe.

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­tónio Guter­res on Thurs­day re­it­er­ated his call for such an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in a state­ment that was read in his name at the UN Fo­rum on the Ques­tion of Pales­tine in New York.

“It is im­per­a­tive that ev­ery­one show the ut­most re­straint to avoid fur­ther loss of life, in­clud­ing all civil­ians and par­tic­u­larly chil­dren are not in harm’s way. The cy­cle of vi­o­lence in Gaza must end, it serves no one,” Guter­res said in his state­ment. He added, “I re­peat my call for such killings to be in­ves­ti­gated thor­oughly.”

De­fense Min­is­ter Avig­dor Liber­man called on Is­rael and the US to im­me­di­ately with­draw from the UNHRC to protest its spe­cial ses­sion on Is­rael.

“Is­rael is un­der a dou­ble at­tack,” Liber­man wrote in a Twit­ter post.

“A terror at­tack from Gaza and an at­tack of hypocrisy headed by the United Na­tions Hu­man Rights Coun­cil.”

The Hu­man Rights Coun­cil’s con­dem­na­tions of Is­rael, Liber­man wrote, “are meant to de­ter Is­rael from pro­tect­ing it­self. They will not suc­ceed.”

“We must stop per­mit­ting this cel­e­bra­tion of hypocrisy,” the de­fense min­is­ter wrote, “and im­me­di­ately with­draw from the Hu­man Rights Coun­cil, and work dili­gently so that the United States joins us in this step.”

Fri­day’s ses­sion has been “con­vened per an of­fi­cial re­quest sub­mit­ted this evening by Pales­tine and the United Arab Emi­rates, on be­half of the Arab Group of States, which has been sup­ported by 26 States thus far,” the UNHRC said.

It will be the 28 spe­cial ses­sion the UNHRC has held since its in­cep­tion in 2006 and the eighth that has fo­cused on Is­raeli ac­tions against the Pales­tini­ans. The last one on Is­rael was in July 2014 in the mid­dle of the Gaza war.

(Mo­hammed Salem/Reuters)

A PALES­TINIAN demon­stra­tor drags a burn­ing tire dur­ing a protest against the US em­bassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th an­niver­sary of the ‘Nakba’ at the Is­rael-Gaza border on Mon­day.

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