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UN speaks out on Israeli action

July 1, 2012

Thursday, July 6. 2006
A UN body has condemned Israeli action in Gaza and called for the release of Palestinians captured during the offensive.

The recently created Human Rights Council voted on Thursday to condemn the offensive launched last week, which Israel said was to recover a soldier captured by Palestinian militants on 25 June.

The 47-member council adopted a resolution demanding a halt to Israel’s military operation and decided to “dispatch an urgent fact-finding mission by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

The special session on Wednesday and Thursday was called by the Arab Group in the UN and supported by about a dozen other member states, including China, India, Russia and South Africa.

Divisions

Five countries abstained from the vote, in what was the council’s first special session, as attempts to broker a consensus failed.

Despite expressing concern about the impact of the offensive, Western countries opposed the resolution or abstained.

The resolution expressed “grave concern at the violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people caused by the Israeli occupation, including the current extensive Israeli military operations”.

Peaceful solution

The council called for “Israel, the occupying power, to immediately release the arrested Palestinian ministers”, other MPs and “all other arrested Palestinian civilians”.

The text also urged “a negotiated solution to the current crisis”.

In text added at the last moment in an unsuccessful attempt to placate European concerns, the resolution urged “all concerned parties to respect the rules of international humanitarian law and to refrain from violence against civilians”.

Mohammad Abu-Koash, the Palestinian ambassador, told the council: “While we gather here in this hall, Israeli tanks are moving and shelling Palestinians, the office of our parliament has been besieged by Israeli troops.

“What you have in front of you is a very mild and diluted resolution.”

‘Morally reprehensible’

Both sides in the conflict were also urged to “treat under all circumstances all detained combatants and civilians in accordance with the Geneva Conventions”.

The special rapporteur, John Dugard, regularly reports on the situation in Palestinian territory and was there last month. Israel has refused to co-operate with him or his predecessors.

Dugard told the council that the offensive in Gaza was “morally reprehensible” and amplified a human rights situation that was already “appalling”.

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