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U.N. Human Rights Council: Gaza War Crimes Commission to Be Formed

(July 30, 2014) On July 23, 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution after concluding a special session on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The resolution included the decision “to establish an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” (Press Release, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Human Rights Council Establishes Independent, International Commission ofInquiry for the Occupied Palestinian Territory (July 23, 2014).) The investigation is to include East Jerusalem and, the resolution stated, is to focus on violations “particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014” the commission is to report its findings to the UNHRC’s 28th session. (Id.; see also Dominic Yobbi, UN Rights Council to Form Commission to Investigate War Crimes in Gaza, PAPER CHASE (July 25, 2014).)

Twenty-nine states voted in favor of the resolution, one, the United States, voted against it, and 17 states abstained. (Press Release, supra.) In the resolution, the UNHRC condemns Israel’s failure to end its “prolonged occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” and also condemns “the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 13 June 2014 that may amount to international crimes.” (Id.) At the same time, the UNHRC censured “all violence against civilians wherever it occurred, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of rocket fire.” (Id.) It urged the “immediate cessation of Israeli military assaults throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” “an end to attacks against all civilians, including Israeli civilians,” and the immediate and full cessation of Israel’s “illegal closure of the occupied Gaza Strip.” It further called for the provision by the international community of humanitarian assistance and services to the Palestinians there. (Id.; for the text of the resolution, see Human Rights Council Resolution S-21/1 Adopted on 23 July 2014 Ensuring Respect for International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including East Jerusalem, OHCHR website [first item under “Documents” section of the webpage].)