The United Nations Human Rights Council approved a “war crimes” probe on Friday to “provide recommendations to protect civilians against any further assaults” in the Gaza Strip.
The resolution was approved in a 29-2 vote, with 14 abstentions. The United States and Australia were the only countries to vote against the resolution. However, Croatia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kenya, Panama, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Switzerland, Togo, Slovakia and the United Kingdom all abstained.
The United Kingdom said while it recognizes the “tragic and concerning loss of life” among the Palestinians, it was unable to support an investigation that ignores Hamas, as it does not “provide us with true understanding of accountability.”
Similarly, Australia said that while the situation in Gaza is complex, “Israel has the right to protect its population, but should also exercise restraint. However, the role of Hamas cannot be ignored.”
Speaking before the vote at the special session, UNHRC chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned that “killing resulting from the unlawful use of force by an occupying power may also constitute willful killings, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
Al Hussein, who is Jordanian, pointed out that the 62 Palestinians killed on Monday versus the light Israeli casualties was “suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response.” A Hamas leader later acknowledged that 50 of some 62 Palestinians killed were members of the terror group.
Israel’s ambassador to the UNHRC, Aviva Raz Shechter, slammed the special session, calling it “politically motivated and won’t improve the situation on the ground by even one iota.”
“The unfortunate outcome of Monday’s riots can only be attributed to Hamas’s cynical exploitation of its own population, in a violent campaign against Israel,” she said.
The U.S. envoy to the UNHRC, Theodore Allegra, also said the council was “blatantly taking sides and ignoring the real culprit for the recent outbreak of violence: the terrorist organization Hamas.”