The United Nations Human Rights Council today
labelled Israel’s response to recent rocket attacks from Gaza a war
crime and “collective punishment against the civilian population” in a
resolution that also called for an end to such military actions and to
the “firing of crude rockets by Palestinian combatants.”
The resolution, submitted by Pakistan, received 33 votes in favour and
one against (Canada), with 13 abstentions. The vote followed a general
debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied
Arab territories, which was preceded by statements from High
Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, as well as representatives
of Israel, Palestine and Syria.
“I am deeply alarmed about the death of civilians,” Ms. Arbour said,
repeating her condemnation of rocket attacks by Palestinians as well as
what she called Israel’s disproportionate use of force.
She urged all parties to conduct law-based, independent, transparent
and accessible investigations into the killings of civilians, to make
the findings public and to hold any perpetrators accountable.
“All human rights are equal for all human beings and no party can claim
that, in defending its own population, it is allowed to disavow the
rights of others,” Ms. Arbour stressed. “On the contrary, all parties
have obligations not only towards the rights of their own people, but
for the rights of all.”
Introducing the resolution, Mahsood Khan of Pakistan said that the
serious situation caused by the incessant Israeli military attacks in
Gaza required an instant response by the Human Rights Council.
Israel’s representative Itzhak Levanon said that Hamas had fired 671
missiles at civilians, women and children since January; it was
committing war crimes and collectively punishing a population of a
quarter of a million citizens living in Ashkelon, Sderot, Negev and
He added that one-sided resolutions would not intimidate Israel, which
he said had the fundamental right to live and the essential right to
Palestinian representative Mohammed Abu-Koash said the number of
Palestinians killed had rendered the Israeli claims of combating
militants null and void. Urgent international intervention was required
to end murder and provide protection to the Palestinian civil
population, he maintained.
The seventh session of the Human Rights Council, which replaced the
Human Rights Commission in 2006, opened on Monday and will run through
Source:UN News Centre