Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (May18/06)
23 May 2018
Third World Network
United Nations: HRC to dispatch urgent probe on Gaza violence
Published in SUNS #8685 dated 23 May 2018
Geneva, 22 May (Kanaga Raja) - The United Nations Human Rights Council
has decided to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission
of in quiry to investigate all alleged violations and abuses in the
occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the Israeli military assaults,
and what the High Commissioner fo r Human Rights on 18 May called
"appalling" and "horrific"events of the past week.
The High Commissioner, Mr Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, had told the Special
Session of the Council that since the large-scale civilian protests
began on 30 Mar ch 2018, 87 Palestinians, including 12 children have
been killed by the Israeli security forces in the context of the demonstrations,
and 29 others, including three children, were killed in other circumstances.
Over 12,000 people have been injured, more than 3,500 of them by live
ammunition. The violence reached a peak on Monday 14 May, when 43
demonstrators were killed by Israeli forces - and the number sadly
continues to climb, as some of the 1,360 demonstrators injured with
live ammunition that day succumb to their wounds.
In a resolution adopted at the close of its Special Session on Friday
(18 May), the Council called upon Israel, the occupying Power, and
all relevant parties to cooperate fully with the commission of inquiry.
The resolution was adopted by a vote of 29 in faour, two against and
Those that voted in favour of the resolution were: Afghanistan, Angola,
Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Nepal,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal,
Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
Australia and the United States voted against the resolution.
Those that abstained in the vote were: Croatia, Ethiopia, Georgia,
Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kenya, Panama, Republic of Korea, Rwanda,
Slovakia, Switzerland, Togo and the United Kingdom.
The Special Session was convened following an official request submitted
on 15 May by Palestine and the United Arab Emirates, on behalf of
the Arab Group of States, and supported by 17 States members of the
Council: Angola, Burundi, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa,
Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, and by nine observer
states: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kuwait, Maldives,
Oman, Tajikistan and Turkey.
Since 15 May, an additional 24 States signed on in support of holding
the Special Session: Algeria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China,
Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Iran, Ireland, Liechtenstein,
Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia,
Portugal, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland and Zimbabwe. (See SUNS
#8684 dated 22 May 2018).
In the resolution (A/HRC/S-28/L.1) adopted on 18 May, the Human Rights
Council reaffirmed that all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth
Geneva Convention are under the obligation to respect and ensure respect
for the obligations arising from the said Convention in relation to
the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and
also reaffirmed their obligations under articles 146, 147 and 148
with regard to penal sanctions, grave breaches and the responsibilities
of the High Contracting Parties.
The Council, the resolution said, is convinced that the lack of accountability
for violations of international law reinforces a culture of impunity,
leading to a recurrence of violations and seriously endangering international
The Human Rights Council noted the systematic failure by Israel to
carry out genuine investigations in an impartial, independent, prompt
and effective way, as required by international law, into the violence
and offences against Palestinians by the occupying forces, and to
establish judicial accountability for its actions in the Occupied
Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
It emphasized the obligations of Israel as the occupying Power to
ensure the safety, well-being and protection of the Palestinian civilian
population under its occupation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
including East Jerusalem.
The Council also emphasized that the intentional targeting of civilians
and other protected persons in situations of armed conflict, including
foreign occupation, constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian
law and international human rights law, and poses a threat to international
peace and security.
It recognized the importance of the right to life and the right to
freedom of peaceful assembly and association to the full enjoyment
of all human rights.
The Council condemned the "disproportionate and indiscriminate
use of force " by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian
civilians, including in the context of peaceful protests, particularly
in the Gaza Strip, in violation of international humanitarian law,
international human rights law and relevant United Nations resolutions.
It expressed its grief at the extensive loss of life, including of
children, women, health workers and journalists, and at the high number
The Council called for an immediate cessation of all attacks, incitement
an d violence against civilians throughout the Occupied Palestinian
Territory, including East Jerusalem.
It also called on all parties to ensure that future demonstrations
remain peaceful and to abstain from actions that could endanger the
lives of civilians.
The Council demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately
and full y end its illegal closure of the occupied Gaza Strip, "which
amounts to collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population,
including through the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening
of the crossings to the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods
and persons, especially those in need of urgent medical attention,
to and from the Gaza Strip, in compliance with its obligations under
international humanitarian law".
The Council decided to "urgently dispatch an independent, international
commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human
Rights Council, to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of
international humanitarian law and international human rights law
in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly
in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults
on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018,
whether before, during or after, to establish the facts and circumstances,
with assistance from relevant experts and special procedure mandate
holders, of the alleged violations and abuses, including those that
may amount to war crimes, to identify those responsible, to make recommendation
s, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding
and ending impunity and ensuring legal accountability, including individual
criminal a nd command responsibility, for such violations and abuses,
and on protecting civilians against any further assaults, and to present
an oral update to the Council at its thirty-ninth session and a final,
written report at its fortieth session."
It called upon Israel, the occupying Power, and all relevant parties
to cooperate fully with the commission of inquiry and facilitate its
It requested the cooperation, as appropriate, of other relevant United
Nations bodies with the commission of inquiry to carry out its mission.
It requested the assistance of the Secretary-General and the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in this regard, including
in the provision of all administrative, technical and logistical assistance
required to enable the commission of inquiry and special procedure
mandate holders to fulfil their mandates promptly and efficiently.
The Council decided to remain seized of the matter.