The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decided on Wednesday to dispatch an international commission of inquiry to investigate violations committed since the start of the latest Israeli military occupation in the Gaza Strip.
Following a special session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the council issued a resolution where it ordered the establishment of the said commission. The commission would investigate the facts and circumstances of all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied lands, especially Gaza.
The commission is expected to identify those responsible for the violence and ensure they are held accountable. It is to report its findings to the UNHRC on the latter’s 28th session.
The council strongly condemned the “widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms” exercised by Israel. It described attacks carried out by Israel during its latest Israeli offensive in Gaza as “disproportionate and discriminate”, adding that the Israeli targeting of civilians is “collective punishment” which fails to adhere by international law.
The UNHRC also condemned all violence against civilians, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of rockets fired on Israel by Hamas, Gaza’s governing body. The council called on Israel to “immediately” cease its military assaults on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. It also urged for an end to all attacks against civilians.
The council called on all regional and international actors to support an Egyptian ceasefire initiative, which it endorsed.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip last Thursday night, almost 10 days after the start of its offensive on the strip. The offensive has thus far left over 740 Palestinians and at least 36 Israelis killed.
The ground invasion shortly followed an official rejection by Hamas of the Egypt-sponsored ceasefire agreement, approved by Israel, and welcomed by most state-actors.
Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned during Wednesday’s session that the ongoing disregard for international humanitarian and human rights laws “may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity”. The high commissioner noted that at least 147 children have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the offensive.