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Israel Boycotts UN Debate on Gaza War Probe

  • Lisa Schlein

A Palestinian boy plays amid the rubble of his family's former house, which was destroyed in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas militants, in the Eastern Gaza City Shujaiya neighborhood, May 11, 2015.

A Palestinian boy plays amid the rubble of his family's former house, which was destroyed in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas militants, in the Eastern Gaza City Shujaiya neighborhood, May 11, 2015.

Israel has boycotted a daylong debate on a report on the 2014 Gaza conflict, calling it biased and flawed. The report, commissioned by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, finds both Israel and armed Palestinian groups may have committed war crimes in Gaza.

The report documents serious violations of international law and human rights abuses committed during Gaza’s seven-week war last summer. More than 2,200 people were killed, most of them Gazans.

In her presentation to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the Chair of the Commission of Inquiry, Mary McGowan Davis, detailed indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces.

She also accused Palestinian armed groups of regularly conducting operations from densely populated areas, firing more than 4,500 rockets and mortars into Israel. In some cases, Davis said they fired from specially protected buildings, increasing the risk to the civilian population and civilian objects in Gaza.

"Throughout our inquiry, we were deeply moved by the immense suffering of Palestinian and Israeli victims, who have been subjected to repeated rounds of violence, which last summer resulted in an unprecedented number of casualties," Davis said. "The information we gathered points to serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Israel and by Palestinian armed groups, in some cases, these may amount to war crimes."

The Israeli delegation was not present at the meeting, so only Palestine used its right to speak. Palestinian Representative Ibrahim Khraishi called the report balanced, but he criticized it for not describing the conflict itself as imbalanced. He spoke through an interpreter.

“The report did not take into consideration the massive difference in military capacity and that one side is under occupation and siege and the other is an occupier. The losses are not equitable,” said Khraishi.

The United States, Canada and most European Union countries did not participate in the debate.

Outside the council chamber, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Eviator Manor called the Council a biased and morally flawed U.N. organ.

"This is not the Human Rights Council. It is the Palestinian Human Rights Council; 2,600 civilians have been killed in Yemen and a humanitarian catastrophe is taking place there," Manor said. "That is almost double the number of civilians killed in the Gaza conflict, but the council has yet to call for a special session or deal with the matter."

Manor noted the council has adopted 61 resolutions against Israel and only 55 country resolutions against the rest of the world.

He said that all countries accused of human rights violations, including such serial offenders as North Korea and Sudan, are considered under the same agenda item, but only Israel’s human rights record is debated under a permanent, separate item.

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