Human Rights Council Recommends Accountability of Israel in The Hague


Human Rights Council – United Nations Office at Geneva has recommended accountability of Israel in The Hague. The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard yesterday the introduction of the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, followed by a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.

human rightsFlavia Pansieri, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting the report, recalled the dramatic deterioration of the human rights situation that had taken place in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in recent months. Monitoring and verification of violations continued but there was a pressing need for more thorough investigation, and for appropriate and effective accountability measures.  

According to Pansieri report, preliminary data suggested that 1,479 of a total of 2,158 Palestinian fatalities were civilians, of them 506 were children. On the Israeli side, reports indicated that in addition to 66 soldiers, at least five civilians were killed during hostilities, as well as one person whose status was not yet known.  

More than 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza were left without a habitable home to return to.  And as of 26 August, 497,000 people had been internally displaced.  The tragic deaths of hundreds of migrants from Gaza in the Mediterranean in recent days showed just how desperate many people were to escape their miserable situation.

The report noted serious concerns of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including some that may amount to war crimes.

There were concerns with respect to conduct by Palestinian armed groups, including the indiscriminate nature of rocket attacks and the reported failure to respect the inviolability of United Nations premises.  

Conduct during the hostilities by Israeli forces raised serious concerns that international humanitarian law principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack had not been respected. Meanwhile, the situation in the West Bank remained a grave cause for concern.  

Following the kidnapping and murder in June of three Israeli youths near Hebron, Israeli authorities resumed the practice of punitive demolitions, carried out mass arrests of Palestinians, and imposed severe movement restrictions.  It was of critical importance that steps were taken at the domestic level to ensure accountability for violations of international law, and that all parties cooperated fully with the Commission of Inquiry.  

The recommendation to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court as one avenue of accountability remained relevant. 

Statement by Concerned Countries

State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, expressed its disappointment at Israel’s decision not to participate in this agenda item of the Council.  The occupation and numerous human rights violations by Israel for the last 47 years made Israel the world’s biggest violator of human rights.  The latest Israeli aggression had put the occupied Gaza Strip under siege, shelling and bombarding it by air, land and sea.  Its targeting of civilians, private property, infrastructure and United Nations buildings such as the UNRWA schools was tantamount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The aggression led to the murder of more than 2,000 and injury of more than 11,000 civilians, more than a third of whom were children.  Half a million Palestinians had been displaced.  Palestine welcomed the Council’s appointment of the independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate what happened, adding that the international community should force accountability and end impunity, including by forcing Israel to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.  Palestine said since 1967 Israel had detained some 800,000 Palestinians, 6,500 of whom continued to languish in prison, including 2,200 Palestinians detained by Israel in the last two months.  Israel was one of the worst offenders of arbitrary detention.  Palestine condemned the plans to forcibly displace Palestinian Bedouins from the eastern part of Jerusalem and called on the United Nations to put an end to Israel’s illegal settlement activities.  Palestine called on all States to implement United Nations advisory principles on trade and human rights.  It paid tribute to Switzerland’s efforts to convene a meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on its application on the occupied Palestinian territories, in order to better protect civilians.

Syria, speaking as a concerned country, said that the violations of human rights by Israel were part and parcel of discriminatory policies and practices of Israel towards Palestinian and Syrian citizens living under the occupation.  Israel continued to defy the international community and disregard its resolutions, and enjoyed impunity under the protection of some countries.  Israel continued to provide assistance to terrorist organizations operating on the border in order to undermine peace keeping operations, and this was documented.  Other countries that supported terrorism were in cohort with Israel, such as Qatar.  It was time to put an end to the expansionist and colonialist policy of Israel, including the coercive displacement of people.

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