Geneva / Tel Aviv (dpa) – Israel and Hamas have been harshly criticized at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for recent violence in the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, condemned the actions of Israel, as well as the rocket attacks by the Islamist Hamas that ruled Israel in the Gaza Strip.
After an 11-day conflict, Israel and Hamas agreed on a ceasefire less than a week ago. The EU, the US and Israel classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.
Bachelet said that if Israel’s airstrikes in Gaza had been “arbitrary and disproportionate” in terms of impact on civilians and civilian facilities, it could have been war crimes.
She accused Israeli security forces of excessive force to stop demonstrations against the threat of expulsion of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem. Hamas has also violated international humanitarian law by firing rockets at Israel indiscriminately and stationing military equipment in densely populated areas, Bachelet said. Israel claims that subsequent air strikes in Gaza targeted buildings used for military purposes. “We have seen no evidence of this,” said Bachelet.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu criticized Israel at the Human Rights Council meeting, speaking of “crimes against humanity” and a “campaign of systematic, ethnic, religious and cultural cleansing,” as the Anadolu agency reported. Like most participants, it was connected via video.
Israeli ambassador Meirav Eilon Shachar denied any wrongdoing. Hamas is a “murderous, extreme terrorist organization” that uses civilians as human shields.
The UN Human Rights Council had a special session because of the recent violence. Pakistan called for a commission of inquiry on behalf of several countries in a resolution. It must investigate human rights violations in the Palestinian Territories and East Jerusalem since April. It became clear that the resolution would be accepted. This required a simple majority of the 47 council members. Israel and the US repeatedly accuse the Council of being biased against Israel. Of the 33 investigations it has passed since it was established in 2006, seven concerned the Palestinian Territories.
The most recent escalation followed clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount (Al-Haram al-Sharif) in Jerusalem and in the Arab-dominated east of the city. Hamas fired more than 4,300 missiles at Israel. Israel responded with violent air strikes on the Gaza Strip. According to the Ministry of Health, 254 people were killed there in the Gaza Strip and 13 in Israel by Hamas rocket attacks.
The Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” on Thursday showed photos of 67 dead Palestinian children and adolescents aged six months to 17 years on the front page. “That’s the price of war,” she wrote.
Israel convened the ambassador to Israel to protest a statement by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Le Drian had spoken on a television program about an approaching “apartheid” in Israel. Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told the ambassador, according to the ministry, that Israel expects friendly states not to play into the hands of radical and anti-Israeli forces with irresponsible statements. In April, human rights organization Human Rights Watch accused Israel of pursuing an apartheid policy against the Palestinians.
Apartheid has been called the doctrine of the separation of individual ethnic groups, especially until 1994 in South Africa. Apartheid is also an internationally defined crime against humanity.