News / Middle East

UN Debate Condemns Israel’s Military Incursion into Gaza

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay arrives for the 21st Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories at the United Nations Office in Geneva, July 23, 2014.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay arrives for the 21st Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories at the United Nations Office in Geneva, July 23, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is warning Israel that targeting civilian facilities in Gaza may amount to war crimes, and she called for an end to the 16-day war in Gaza, which has resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties.

Pillay, who also condemned Palestinian fighters' tactics in the Gaza conflict, spoke Wednesday at the opening of an emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The U.N. human rights chief set the tone for the emergency debate at the rights council.  She lamented the high toll of civilian deaths caused by Israel’s military incursion in the Gaza Strip.

She noted that hostilities have resulted in the deaths of more than 600 Palestinians, including at least 147 children and 74 women. She said hundreds of homes and other civilian buildings have been destroyed or damaged and more than 140,000 Palestinians displaced.

Pillay cited a number of Israeli strikes on medical facilities and noted many instances of civilians, including women and children, being killed when their homes were hit by Israeli air strikes or shelling.

‘These are just a few instances where there seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes," she said. "Every one of these incidents must be properly and independently investigated.”

Pillay also had harsh words for the Palestinian group Hamas. She condemned Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza for indiscriminately firing more than 2,900 rockets, as well as mortar shells, into Israel.  She said military assets such as rocket launch sites must not be located in densely populated areas, and noted these actions also may amount to war crimes.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki accused Israel of heinous crimes against his people. He said Israel’s bombing is causing massive destruction in Gaza and depriving people of their right to life.  

“We should shed light on the Israeli practices. Israel must be held accountable for its crimes," he said. "The impunity enjoyed by Israel has given rise to a legal void - a void in which justice does not exist in the country and impunity prevails. That is why Israel is encouraged to repeat its violations.”

The applause that greeted the Palestinian official's comments triggered a reprimand from the rights council president, who told delegates to refrain from showing their passion.

Speaking for Israel, Ambassador Eviator Manor said the rights council had no understanding of Israel’s need to defend itself and was only interested in naming and shaming his country.

Manor accused Hamas of war crimes and said Israel will destroy the group’s military infrastructure. He added that residents of Gaza were not Israel’s enemies and said his government is fully committed to international law.

“This council has lost its bearing. This Special Session is misguided, ill conceived and counter-productive to efforts made as we speak to end hostilities," he said. "The resolution which will be presented to you today is totally unbalanced, asymmetric and destructive.”

The resolution in the rights council condemns what it calls the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights arising from Israel’s military operations in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in Gaza. It demands an immediate end to Israeli military assaults and insists Israel end its illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which amounts to collective punishment.   

The resolution also calls for an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law in the Palestinian territory.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video Empire State Building Highlights Cecil the Lion

People gathered in streets and rooftops in Manhattan to see the image highlights that covered 33 floors of the building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Stefan
July 24, 2014 12:02 AM
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, please tell us what action you are taking to indict those responsible for downing the Malaysian airliner to the Hague for trial and what warning have you issued to Russia, for supporting those responsible. Finally when last did you visit Israel.

by: Not Again from: Canada
July 23, 2014 10:03 PM
This is the third time Hamas has forced a major war on Israel; the massive bombardments of Israel for the last four month+ left no choice but to fire back at Hamas. As all terrorist orgs, Hamas, uses civilians as shields, and it fires projectiles against civilian areas. Israel was fortunate to have developed Iron Dome, which knocks out the majority of the Gaza launched projectles, otherwise Israel would have suffered hundredths of casualties.
In my view, UNHRC targets Israel, because its bias against Israel; where was UNHRC 4+ months ago? No good will come from such biased decisions, it just continues to substract from the credibility of the organization.
For over four months Israel has been bombarded by projectiles from Gaza, not one word from the UNHRC organization. Missiles have even been found in UN compounds in Gaza, really makes you wonder about the neutrality of the UN.
It is becoming evident, that as long as terrorists attack, and continue attacking be it against Israel, or attack school girls in Nigeria, or Balaka terrorist attack Christians in CAR... the UN remains mute; as soon as the victms start defending themselves, the UNHRC wakes up. Not a good way to do business; armed conflicts need to be dealt as soon as the first spark flies, so that the sitiuation does not rapidly escalate,to incredible size, as we see in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen an so on. We see more and more conflicts, and we see the UNHRC takes longer and longer to react; my conclusion is that the org picks and choses which country to target, and Israel is the usual country targeted, even when it does not even initiate the wars.
In Response

by: Ben from: Australia
July 24, 2014 7:30 AM
I think I agree with you, but before I commit, I just want to know the rough numbers of civilians especially kids killed on each side. This is really the indication as to who is the most tyrannical. I expect it's similar on both sides mind you.

by: Larry Robins from: Ft Lauderdale
July 23, 2014 8:29 PM
Go Hamas Go! How many more children will you hide behind as you launch bombs into Israel? How many more women will you use as human shields to hide behind as you attack Israel? How many more Arab casualties will you cause by your stupid actions? Your hatred of the Jews? Your stupid admin policies in Gaza that has destroyed the quality of life under your rule? If your people do not revolt against you, they deserve you. Not my pity, but you!

by: Valentine from: Lagos
July 23, 2014 3:10 PM
Mr Manor, pls forget about people like Pillay who does not want peace in Isreal.
For now, the only way Israel will be secured is to ve a very strong military.

by: Nocroman from: Michigan
July 23, 2014 2:21 PM
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay should get her head out of her ass. As long as the Palestinian Authorities allow Hamas to randomly attack Israel, Then Israel has the right to inflict as much damage to Hamas as is humanly possible. Civilians have a responsibility to their family to get out of the way of pick up arms and shoot Hamas members attacking Israel to prevent WAR and the needless death of their family members. If a society allows terrorists to exist in their country or on their lands, then they deserve what comes after the terrorists Blow up innocents. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay should be charging The Hamas leaders with war crimes for the blatant random missile attacks on Israel with no regard to Israel's civilian population.
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
July 23, 2014 8:47 PM
the Israel has to stop. there are 600 people killed. and the rocket attack is pretext. this rocket can not hit a target .the chance that rocket hit a target is very small. The Israel hostility is for more than 15 days and 600 lost their live. why not stop and look for a solution. both sides are stubborn and civilian are the real victim. Israel has to respect the law especially international law and never did. is real claim that it is a western country and acting in civilized manner but the action of Israel explained otherwise

by: Kevin Spring from: N.E. illinois
July 23, 2014 2:08 PM
If anyone should be charge with war crimes it's both the Hammas and the U.N.. It's time to shut down the U.N.
In Response

by: anna_K from: helsinki
July 23, 2014 5:35 PM
I agree that the UN has long been a very ridiculous organization that has never ever helped those who were in desperate trouble but has always found a way to condemn those defending themselves.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs