1st LD Writethru: UN to launch inquiry into human rights violations from Israel military offensive

GENEVA, July 23 (Xinhua) -- A special session of United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution on Wednesday and decided to launch an inquiry into human rights violations from Israel latest military offensive in the Gaza strip.

The one-day special session, requested by 22 members of the council and 16 Observer States, backed a Palestinian-drafted resolution by 29 votes in favor, 17 abstentions, and one against. The United States was the sole member that cast the no ballot.

The resolution condemned in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the lastest Israeli military operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that may amount to international crimes.

It also condemned all violence against civilians wherever it occurred, and called for an immediate cessation of Israeli military assaults throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and an end to attacks against all civilians, including Israeli civilians.

The Council demanded that Israel immediately and fully end its illegal closure of the occupied Gaza Strip and called upon the international community to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance and services to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

In the resolution, the council decided to urgently dispatch an independent and international commission of inquiry to investigate violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip.

UN statistics showed that in the Israel's military operation "Protective Edge" launched earlier this month in Gaza strip, over 600 Palestinians have died, including at least 147 children and 74 women, thousands injured, and more than 140,000 displaced.

By Tuesday, around 118,000 Palestinians, about 6 percent of the population of Gaza, had sought refuge in 77 schools run by UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned indiscriminate attacks both in Gaza Strip and Israel and highlighted that civilians must not be targeted.

Pillay urged parties to the conflict to strictly abide by international humanitarian and human rights laws and warned that not abiding by these principles may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Israel criticized the convening of this special session as misguided, ill-conceived and counter-productive to efforts being made to end hostilities,and accused Hamas of committing war crimes when it fired rockets and missiles indiscriminately at Israeli towns.

Israel noted that its military operation aimed only at Hamas military targets, not Gaza civilians, and deeply regretted any civilian losses caused by its operations and had already started investigations.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, stressed that the fundamental right to life of their people was severely endangered, and the infrastructure on the ground had been destroyed, including water supplies, roads and communication networks.

It said what Israel was doing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions.