Israel will not co-operate with UN human rights inquiry

Twenty-nine countries approved probe, 14 abstained, and US and Australia voted against

Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Ibrahim Khraishi during a special session of the UN Human Rights Council to discuss “the deteriorating human rights situation” in the Palestinian Territories. Photograph: Martial Trezzini/EPA

Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Ibrahim Khraishi during a special session of the UN Human Rights Council to discuss “the deteriorating human rights situation” in the Palestinian Territories. Photograph: Martial Trezzini/EPA

 

Israel says it won’t co-operate with the inquiry called for by the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on Friday into recent violence on the Israel-Gaza border.

The body approved a commission of inquiry to investigate Israel’s handling of clashes on the Gaza border and alleged human rights violations in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The meeting was called after 60 Palestinian protesters were shot and killed by Israeli troops on Monday, the day the US transferred its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Twenty-nine countries voted to approve the probe, while 14 abstained. Only the United States and Australia voted against the resolution.

“The organisation that calls itself the Human Rights Council again proved it is a hypocritical and biased body whose purpose is to harm Israel and back terror, but mostly it proved it is irrelevant,” Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, adding that the vote’s outcome was determined in advance due to the council’s “automatic anti-Israel majority”.

‘Correct decision’

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat praised the “correct decision”, saying Israel must be brought to justice.

Defence minister Avigdor Lieberman called for Israel to withdraw from the HRC and promised to defend soldiers from international investigations.

“Dear soldiers, just as you guard us from Hamas terror, we will protect you from international inquiries and hypocritical gangs that operate against Israel,” he said in a tweet.

The United Nations human rights chief said Israel used “wholly disproportionate” force.

Zeid Raad al -Hussein told the Geneva meeting that Gaza residents were effectively “caged in a toxic slum from birth to death”.

Kuwait has circulated a draft resolution at the UN Security Council condemning Israel’s actions and calling for the deployment of an international force to protect civilians. Kuwait is urging the Security Council to condemn Israel’s use of force against Palestinian civilians “in the strongest terms”, especially in the Gaza Strip.

No restrictions

A few thousand Palestinians protested on the Gaza border with Israel on Friday, the first weekend of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Tens of thousands of West Bank Muslims attended Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. Israeli police were out in force but placed no restrictions on those allowed to pray.

In a major boost for Gaza residents, Egypt has opened its Rafah crossing at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip and intends to keep it open until the end of Ramadan on June 14th.

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said he took the humanitarian gesture “to ensure the easing of the burdens on the brothers in the Gaza Strip”. Egypt played a key role in mediating between the sides after Monday’s clashes.

The events in Gaza have also sparked a diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel, with both countries expelling each other’s senior diplomats this week.

Addressing a large rally in Istanbul on Friday, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced “Israel’s tyranny” saying that the world’s Muslims must take a “physical stance on Israel”.