UN rights body demands Israel be held accountable for possible war crimes

The resolution expressed 'grave concern at reports of serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international humanitarian law'

By Reuters

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A woman and a young man embrace a crying girl as they mourn relatives who were killed during Israeli bombardment at Al Najar Hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. — AFP
A woman and a young man embrace a crying girl as they mourn relatives who were killed during Israeli bombardment at Al Najar Hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. — AFP

Published: Fri 5 Apr 2024, 2:22 PM

Last updated: Fri 5 Apr 2024, 2:23 PM

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday adopted a resolution calling for Israel to be held accountable for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip, although Israel dismissed it as a "distorted text".

Twenty-eight countries voted in favour, 13 abstained and six opposed the resolution, including the US and Germany. The adoption prompted several representatives to the council to cheer and clap.


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The resolution stressed "the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in order to end impunity".


It also expressed "grave concern at reports of serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory".

Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel's permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, accused the council of having "long abandoned the Israeli people and long defended Hamas".

"According to the resolution before you today, Israel has no right to protect its people, while Hamas has every right to murder and torture innocent Israelis," she said ahead of the vote. "A vote 'Yes' is a vote for Hamas."

The US had pledged to vote against the resolution because it did not contain a specific condemnation of Hamas for the October 7 attacks, nor "any reference to the terrorist nature of those actions".

It did, however, said that its ally Israel had not done enough to mitigate harm to civilians.

"The US has repeatedly urged Israel to de-conflict military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties and to ensure humanitarian actors can carry out their essential mission in safety," said Michèle Taylor, US permanent representative to the council.

"That has not happened and, in just six months, more humanitarians have been killed in this conflict than in any war of the modern era."

The UN Human Rights Council, which meets several times a year, is the only intergovernmental body designed to protect human rights worldwide. It can increase scrutiny of countries' human rights records and authorise investigations.

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