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UN Human Rights Council Passes Resolution Condemning Israel  

UN Human Rights Council Passes Resolution Condemning Israel

United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution Adopted by Vote

Gaza (July 23, 2014) - 23 Jul 2014 - The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution which condemns Israel for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military actions in Gaza. The resolution calls for those responsible for war crimes to be brought to justice. The resolution was adopted by vote (29 votes for, 1 against and 17 abstentions). 21st special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

Meeting in an emergency session today, the Council adopted a resolution, agreeing to send the investigative team by a vote of 29 countries in favour, with 17 abstentions and a sole negative vote by the United States, in which it strongly condemned the failure of Israel to end its prolonged occupation of the area.

The Council condemned in the strongest terms the "widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms" arising from the Israeli military operations since 13 June, and called for an immediate ceasefire.

Gross violations of international human rights law and grave breaches of international humanitarian law during Israeli military operations in Gaza
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) calls for an immediate end to the Israeli military operations in Gaza. The Human Rights Council must urge both Israel and Palestinian armed groups to desist from any attacks that harm civilians. It is imperative that the conflicting parties cease hostilities immediately with a view to achieving and implementing an immediate and durable cease-fire. The Israeli military must unconditionally withdraw from Gaza.

Over the last two weeks, due to the disproportionate and often indiscriminate attacks by the Israel Defense Forces, more than 500 people have been killed in Gaza. The overwhelming majority of these were civilians, including more than 120 children. Thousands were wounded in the context of these attacks. Sustained aerial bombardment and ground incursions have also resulted in the destruction of basic infrastructure and civil facilities. Many of the attacks have been directed against civilian objects.

Israel must end these attacks immediately and unconditionally. It must open all of Gaza's crossings and allow for free and unrestricted access of humanitarian and medical assistance and supplies. Israel continues to exercise effective control over Gaza. It has obligations both under international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and international human rights law (HRL)to ensure the safety and welfare of civilians living in Gaza.

Such attacks constitute crimes under international law and their perpetrators must be held criminally accountable.

Israel Targeting Civilians; the International Community Shamefully Silent

gaza war child

On 7 July 2014, the State of Israel launched Operation Protective Edge comprised of a brutal onslaught of violence by land, air and sea against the Gaza Strip. We are urging the Council to consider two matters of urgent concern:
An Occupying Power may not resort to the right to self-defence as the occupier is the initial aggressor. Since the start of OPE, statements from influential countries have stressed this contested right, which has worsened the situation on the ground;
Once hostilities begin, international humanitarian law rules must be respected. Al Mezan's documentation confirms the persistence of a consistent trend throughout Operation Protective Edge, which also applies to the past decades: Israeli forces are directing attacks at civilian targets. Israel's brutal attack on the Sheja'ya neighbourhood in the past four days exemplifies the grave breaches of international humanitarian law.

Exemplifying Israel's total departure from international humanitarian law and international human rights law obligations, are the murders of four children playing on the beach near the Gaza City port and the murders of nine teenagers watching the World Cup in a beach cafe. The numerous deliberate attacks on houses evidence outright war crimes. The indiscriminate bombardment of the Shejai'ya neighbourhood in the east of Gaza City - in stated aim of covering the evacuation of Israeli combatants according to the Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Ya'alon - killed dozens of Palestinian civilians in their homes and in the midst of fleeing, is yet another example of the wanton disregard Israel shows to civilian life as well as international humanitarian law rules.

Our documentation shows that 248 people have been killed inside their houses, making up 50% of the total casualties as of 21 July 2014, where the fatalities reached 505 (130 children and 46 women, 78.6% civilians). During the humanitarian ceasefire, Israeli forces directly targeted the house of the Iskafi family; six members were killed. Israeli forces directly targeted the house of the Abu Jame' family; 26 lives lost, including 19 children and five women. Another attack on an apartment in Gaza City killed eleven people, including seven children and three women. The attack on the Ziyada family house killed seven. Israeli forces - equipped with the most sophisticated surveillance technology in the world - are not observing the principle of distinction.

War crimes in the Gaza Strip
gaza war children

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) strongly condemns the ongoing brutal military offensive carry out by Israel in the Gaza Strip, the so called "Operation Protective Edge".

Under the declared pretext of annihilating Hamas' resistance, on July 8th the Israeli forces launched a new large-scale offensive against the Gaza Strip and its 1.8 million inhabitants (the third in the last six years) inflicting heavy civilian casualties and further devastation on a long besieged and impoverished territory.

After fourteen consecutive days of intensive aerial, ground and sea shelling, the scale of human loss and destruction inflicted by Israel to Palestinians living in Gaza is immense. At the time of writing, since the beginning of the offensive:
492 Palestinians have been killed, of whom 406 were civilians, including 129 children and 69 women;
2,803 others have been wounded, mostly civilians, including 679 children and 478 women;
425 houses have been targeted and destroyed and hundreds of others extensively damaged.
at least 170,000 Palestinian civilians have been forcibly displaced. UNRWA reported that 100.000 people were taking refuge in its facilities.

By indiscriminately attacking highly populated areas, inviting civilians to evacuate even though they don't have any place to go, the Israeli forces engaged in a massive campaign of collective punishment in disregard of international humanitarian law, which ensures protection for civilians in times of war, and in violation of the principles of necessity, proportionality and distinction.

The Israeli forces engaged in punitive destruction of houses in the Gaza Strip, causing a huge number of civilian deaths. The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, and that the targeting of homes inevitably results in significant collateral damage to individuals and property nearby. Many of the civilian victims were killed in their houses, or while evacuating. Entire families have been exterminated.

The military offensive included attacks on hospitals, ambulances, handicapped centers, media workers, radio stations, mosques and other protected infrastructures protected under international humanitarian law. On July 14th, UNRWA denounced that 47 of its facilities including schools, clinics and warehouses have been damaged by Israel air raids and other fire in violation of international law. The public health sector is nearly collapsed.

Gross Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Violations and Suspicions of War Crimes in Gaza

Since 8 July 2014, when Israel launched its air, sea and land military offensive dubbed "Operation Protective Edge", at least 500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, about 75% of whom the UN humanitarian office (OCHA) report to be civilians, with upwards of 3,500 people injured. The casualties have included entire families, women, children and the elderly, as Israeli air strikes have deliberately targeted homes. An estimated number of 472 homes have been totally destroyed with thousands severely damaged. Mass displacement has escalated across Gaza with upwards of 100,000 displaced, with an estimated 43% of Gaza's territory declared as a "no-go zone". Other civilian objects bombed by the Israeli military have included hospitals, an emergency medical building, ambulances, schools, mosques, a facility for the disabled, a cafe and a clearly marked media car.

On 20 July 2014, "the deadliest day" so far, particularly grave and horrific events took place in the densely populated Shuja'iyeh area in eastern Gaza City. This area was subjected to intensive artillery shelling, airstrikes and fierce fighting on the ground. As a result, according to human rights organizations and media reports, upwards of 60 Palestinians including 17 children and 14 women were killed as well as 13 Israeli soldiers, and scores of civilians were injured. There was also widespread and systematic destruction of houses in this area by the Israeli military, thus terrorizing the population. Ambulances and medical teams could not evacuate the wounded and the dead or rescue people trapped under the rubble until a humanitarian pause entered into effect.

Thousands of rockets have also been fired indiscriminately at Israel from within the Gaza Strip, with most falling in open areas or intercepted by the Iron Dome. Two citizens of Israel - one who was distributing food to soldiers at Erez in a closed military area and the other a 32-year-old Arab Bedouin man living in an unrecognized village in the Naqab (Negev) desert - were killed. As of this writing, a total of 27 Israeli soldiers have also been killed during the operation.

We strongly condemn Israel's unlawful targeting of civilians, civilian objects, and civilian property. These acts constitute grave violations of international humanitarian law and international criminal law and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, human rights organizations in Gaza, have extensively documented the most serious violations. Based on this information and sworn testimonies, human rights organizations in Israel have filed a series of complaints with the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the Military Advocate General, and the Attorney General demanding independent, genuine investigations into the circumstances of these events.

Israel should face war crimes trials over Gaza
war children in gaza

This report submitted to the Human Rights Council for its July 23, 2014 special session on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, describes the crimes committed by Israel against the civilian population in Gaza during the Operation Protective Edge. After two weeks of shelling over 583 people have been killed, among them over 479 civilians, homes, schools and hospitals have been levelled to the ground and over 100.000 people have been displaced. The disproportionate use of force amounts to war crimes and must be brought to justice as it seriously violates international humanitarian law.

When on July 8, 2014, Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge against Gaza it argued that the use of force was justified by the fact that Israel "had no choice" but to defend itself against what it called the "Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza" that "is intentionally and indiscriminately threatening the lives of 3.5 million innocent men, women and children" by its rockets and that "no nation, no people and no Government could tolerate it." Although the right to self-defense is enshrined in international law, two long-standing principles of self-defense however make the argument questionable: those of necessity and proportionality.

The principle of necessity and proportionality
Generally spoken defensive action must be necessary to adequately defend the threatened interests; and the necessary defensive action must be proportionate to the danger. Necessity implies that the use of force in self-defense must be limited to the attainment of legitimate military objectives. Proportionality implies that the retaliatory impact and/ or civilian cost must be considered. These principles intersect with other instruments of international humanitarian law providing for the protection of civilians during times of war.

"Operation Protective Edge" violates these provisions on multiple levels. Contrary to allegations of self-defense, it was the Israeli PM's calls for vengeance on Hamas after the murder of three Israeli teens in July 2014 that set of the avalanche of violence. Without proving concrete evidence Israel blamed Hamas for the murders and promised to wreak vengeance on the movement in Gaza. From the outset on "Operation Protective Edge" thus carried the characteristics of retaliation campaign, targeting Palestinians as a whole and the new unity government in particular. Such a campaign stands in opposition to the principle of necessity, in serious violation of the UN Charter and fundamental international law principles and thus falls under the definition of aggression.

23 July 2014

The Human Rights Council this morning opened a Special Session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

The Special Session was called for by 22 Member States of the Council and 16 Observer States, said Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella, the President of the Human Rights Council.


Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said since Israel had announced its military operation "Protective Edge" on 7 July, Gaza had been subjected to daily intensive bombardment from the air, land and sea, which had resulted in the deaths of more than 600 Palestinians, including at least 147 children and 74 women. As in the two previous crises in 2009 and 2012, it was innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip who suffered the most. Accountability was the first step towards ensuring that the cycle of human rights violations and impunity was brought to an end. A lasting peace could only begin with respect for human rights and human dignity on both sides, and ultimately, in the full realisation of the right to self-determination.

Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, stated that at least 18 medical facilities, including five UNRWA health clinics, had been hit by airstrikes and shelling since the beginning of the fighting. The seven-year blockade had destroyed Gaza's economy, with high unemployment rates and growing dependence on international assistance. The United Nations was feeding 67 per cent of the population. The international community and the parties to the conflict had to live up to their obligations.

Lance Bartholomeusz, Director of Legal Affairs of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said that by yesterday evening, 22 July, approximately 118,000 Palestinians had sought refuge in 77 UNRWA schools. That was about 6 per cent of the population of Gaza and double the peak in UNRWA shelters during the 2008 to 2009 conflict. The conflict had not spared UNRWA premises.

Makarim Wibisono, Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, speaking on behalf of the Coordination Committee of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, said in addition to at least 599 Palestinians killed, the destruction of numerous houses had left several thousand families homeless. At the same time, the right of the Palestinian people to resist occupation could not justify the launching of thousands of rockets and mortars directed against Israeli civilians.

Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, stated that the fundamental right to life of the Palestinians was severely endangered. Whole families were being killed, and journalists and medical teams were being targeted. A fact-finding mission should be established to look into human rights violations perpetrated by Israel, which should visit Gaza with the Special Procedures mandate holders.

In the general debate, speakers called for the immediate halt of Israeli operations against civilians and civilian targets in Gaza, as well as for the end of rocket launchings into Israel by Hamas and other armed groups. It was stressed that the parties had to exercise maximum restraint with the view of avoiding civilian casualties and suffering of the civilian population. International humanitarian and human rights law ought to be respected. Many speakers expressed belief that peace in the Middle East could not be reached through violence, but only through comprehensive negotiations, and supported the ongoing diplomatic efforts by the United Nations Secretary-General. A number of speakers supported the proposal to establish an independent commission of inquiry into breaches of human rights and international humanitarian law, with the view of avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability.

Speaking during this morning's debate were representatives of Egypt, on behalf of Arab Group, Pakistan, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Iran, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Ethiopia, on behalf of African Group, Italy, on behalf of the European Union and other countries, Venezuela, Brazil, United States, Ireland, Indonesia, Russia, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Pakistan, Austria, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Kuwait, Costa Rica, Philippines, Morocco, India, Mexico, Cuba, China, United Kingdom, Peru, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Chile, Republic of Korea, France, Viet Nam, Qatar, Turkey, and Egypt.

The Council will next meet this afternoon at 3 p.m. to hear the rest of the statements by States and non-governmental organizations, and then take action on the proposed draft resolution before closing the Special Session. This is the twenty-first special session of the Human Rights Council.

Opening Statements

BAUDELAIRE NDONG ELLA, President of the Human Rights Council, said that today's Special Session of the Human Rights Council had been called for by 22 Member States of the Council and 16 Observer States. The Member States were Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Cuba, Gabon, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Viet Nam. The Observer States were Afghanistan, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Qatar, Senegal, State of Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen.

NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said since Israel announced its military operation "Protective Edge" on 7 July, Gaza had been subjected to daily intensive bombardment from the air, land and sea, employing well over 2,100 air strikes alone. The hostilities had resulted in the deaths of more than 600 Palestinians, including at least 147 children and 74 women. As in the two previous crises in 2009 and 2012, it was innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip, including children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities, who suffered the most. According to preliminary United Nations figures, around 74 per cent of those killed so far were civilians, and thousands more had been injured. Hundreds of homes and other civilian buildings, such as schools, had been destroyed or severely damaged in Gaza, and more than 140,000 Palestinians had been displaced. Two Israeli civilians had also lost their lives and between 17 and 32 others had been reported injured as a result of rockets and other projectiles fired from Gaza, and 27 Israeli soldiers had been killed during military operations in Gaza. The indiscriminate firing by Hamas and other armed groups of more than 2,900 rockets and mortars from Gaza continued to endanger the lives of civilians in Israel, and Ms. Pillay once again condemned such indiscriminate attacks. It was unacceptable to locate military assets in densely populated areas or to launch attacks from such areas. However, international law was clear - the actions of one party did not absolve the other party of the need to respect its obligations under international law.

Civilians must not be targeted, the High Commissioner emphasized, saying it was imperative that Israel, Hamas and all Palestinian armed groups strictly abided by international humanitarian and human rights laws. Not abiding by these principles may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The disregard for international humanitarian law and for the right to life was shockingly evident for all to see in the apparent targeting on 16 July of seven children playing on a Gaza beach. All seven were hit. Four of them, - aged between 9 and 11, from the same Bakr family - were killed. These children were clearly civilians taking no part in hostilities. The following day, three more children were killed and two others wounded, reportedly by a drone missile, in the Al-Sabra area of Gaza city while they were playing on the roof of their home as their parents prepared the daily Ramadan iftar meal. These are only a few of the cases in which a total of 147 children have been killed in Gaza over the past 16 days. They had a right to life just like children in any other country. Their killings raise concerns about respect for the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack. Israeli children, and their parents and other civilians, also had a right to live without the constant fear that a rocket fired from Gaza may land on their houses or their schools, killing or injuring them. Ms. Pillay called for each of those incidents to be properly and independently investigated. She also warned that the current situation in Gaza overshadowed the backdrop of heightened tensions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem and expressed concern about a significant rise in incitement to violence against Palestinians, including through social media. Only those responsible for criminal acts could legitimately be punished, she said, individuals should not be subject to collective penalties.

Israel held obligations as an Occupying Power, and both Palestinians and Israelis deserved better than a life of chronic insecurity and recurring escalation in hostilities, said Ms. Pillay, hoping that the parties would respond positively to the visit of the Secretary-General to the region and his call for an immediate ceasefire. Accountability was the first step towards ensuring that the cycle of human rights violations and impunity was brought to an end. A lasting peace could only begin with respect for human rights and human dignity on both sides, and ultimately, in the full realisation of the right to self-determination. All the dead and maimed civilians should weigh heavily on all consciences, said Ms. Pillay, as all efforts to protect them had been abject failures. More powerful entities, such as the Security Council, and individual States with serious leverage over the parties to this dreadful and interminable conflict, must do far more than they had done so far to bring the conflict to an end once and for all.

KYUNG-WHA KANG, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that since 7 July, over 599 Palestinians had been killed in the Gaza Strip and another 3,504 had been injured following the launch of the Israeli military operation "Protective Edge". In Gaza, over 73 per cent of the killed were civilians, one third of whom were children. Houses had been bombed with people in them, burying entire families under the rubble. Half of the population of the Gaza neighbourhood of Shujaiya had fled their homes amidst heavy Israeli military bombardment over the previous weekend. At least 18 medical facilities, including five UNRWA health clinics, had been hit by airstrikes and shelling since the beginning of the fighting. The seven-year blockade had destroyed Gaza's economy, with high unemployment rates and growing dependence on international assistance. The United Nations was feeding 67 per cent of the population. The already poor infrastructure had been severely affected by the current round of conflict. It was necessary to emphasize that the crisis in Gaza had the potential to ignite further violence. Humanitarian agencies had to be given safe and unimpeded access to those in need, for which pauses in fighting were needed, while attacks on medical facilities and staff ought to stop. The international community and the parties to the conflict had to live up to their obligations.

LANCE BARTHOLOMEUSZ, Acting Director of Legal Affairs, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA), said UNRWA was deeply alarmed and affected by the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and the devastating human and physical toll it was taking on civilians, including Palestine refugees. Far too many lives were being lost and the traumas resulting from the military operations would mark the population for years to come. Among ordinary Palestinians there was a profound crisis of confidence in the ability of international law and international mechanisms to protect civilians, and to prevent and address violations of international law. Because of military operations, and because over 40 per cent of Gaza's territory was affected by Israel evacuation warnings or declarations of "no-go zones", thousands of people continued to flee to shelters run by UNRWA and by partners. By yesterday evening, 22 July, approximately 118,000 Palestinians had sought refuge in 77 UNRWA schools. That was about 6 per cent of the population of Gaza and double the peak in UNRWA shelters during the 2008 to 2009 conflict.

The conflict had not spared UNRWA premises, 77 of which had been damaged by air raids and other fire, which was totally unacceptable. All parties to the conflict must respect at all times the neutrality and inviolability of UNRWA's premises. The situation of the population of Gaza and of Palestine Refugees in Gaza had become completely unsustainable. Israel's illegal blockade had deepened poverty levels and Gaza's aquifer would be entirely contaminated in the next three to four years making the Strip essentially unliveable. Today, these indicators paled in comparison to the intensity of the bombardments, fighting and the immediate fears for security and survival. While fully recognising that UNRWA's specific role was a humanitarian one, it asked all actors concerned how long would it take before it was recognised that only a political situation would end the cycle of violence for the lives of tens of thousands which were today at grave and imminent risk.

MAKARIM WIBISONO, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967, speaking on behalf of the Coordination Committee of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, expressed dismay at the deaths, injuries, displacement and devastation resulting from the ongoing hostilities. Since the beginning of the hostilities, courageous human rights defenders and organizations, working often at great risk to their safety, had been documenting and exposing some of the numerous violations. In addition to at least 599 Palestinians killed, the destruction of numerous houses had left several thousand families homeless. Israel's bombings had caused further damage to essential life-support infrastructures. The latest military confrontation came on top of the long-standing illegal blockade imposed on Gaza, which had resulted in distressing levels of poverty. At the same time, the right of the Palestinian people to resist occupation could not justify the launching of thousands of rockets and mortars directed against Israeli civilians. Israel was urged to allow unimpeded access to humanitarian food, water, and medical and other vital assistance to all civilians and affected areas, and to end the illegal blockade. Egypt should ease the restrictions at the Rafah crossing and allow the entry of essential humanitarian assistance, while the international community ought to do all it could to foster an effective peace process.

Statements by the Concerned Countries

RIAD MALKI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, said that the Palestinian people had been suffering since 1948. For more than two weeks now, Palestinian civilians had been exposed to bombings, maritime and air strikes, as well as the ground invasion. The fundamental right to life of the Palestinians was severely endangered; Palestinian children playing on the beach had been killed by the occupying force. Whole families were being killed, and journalists and medical teams were being targeted. Since the beginning of the attacks, more than 630 Palestinian civilians had been killed. The infrastructure had been destroyed, including water supplies, roads and communication networks. The occupying force was targeting medical centres in Gaza, as well as Muslim and Christian places of worship. What Israel was doing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions; Israel was massively punishing 1.8 million citizens in Gaza. Israel had to be held accountable for its crimes; its impunity thus far had encouraged Israel to repeat its actions. How many martyrs had to die before Israel put an end to its actions? The international community had to shoulder its responsibilities and the Council had to act now so that Israel halted its operations immediately. A fact-finding mission should be established to look into human rights violations perpetrated by Israel, which should visit Gaza with the Special Procedures mandate holders. It was high time to put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land.

General Debate

Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, expressed alarm over the brutal attack launched by the occupying power over the last month. Israel had besieged Gaza with sophisticated weapons, targeting homes and health institutions, causing large numbers of casualties, injuries and displacement. The Arab Group and others had requested this Special Session to make the international community aware of its responsibilities in light of the grave and wide-ranging human rights violations against the people of Gaza. The draft resolution called for an independent Commission of Inquiry into those violations.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the aggression with impunity taking place in Gaza was the continuation of systematic and gross human rights violations by the occupying power Israel, and its heinous crimes needed to be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators held accountable through the establishment of a commission of inquiry. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation also called for the resumption of the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, condemned in the strongest terms the widespread systematic and gross violations by Israel of basic principles of international law. The Non-Aligned Movement was deeply disappointed by the failure of the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities to bring an end to the unlawful Israeli aggression. An international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations with a view to ending impunity was necessary.

Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, deplored the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip and surrounding areas, and all forms of attacks on civilians and public infrastructure. Israel was called upon to end all forms of attacks against civilians and to end the illegal blockade against Palestinians. Attacks from Palestine against Israel should also cease. The international community should deploy additional measures to safeguard the well-being of the people of Palestine and support their struggle for self-determination.

Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union and other countries, condemned the loss of hundreds of civilian lives and called for an immediate cessation of the hostilities in Gaza. They welcomed and supported the efforts by regional partners, in particular Egypt. They strongly condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas, and, while recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, also underlined that Israel's military operation must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law.

Venezuela condemned the blatant violation of human rights and international humanitarian law by Israel's political and military elite. Israel was seeking to exterminate the Palestinian people and to deprive them permanently of their historical legacy. Israel's actions constituted a war crime and a crime against humanity. State terrorism had become a daily practice of the occupying power. Venezuela demanded that the brutal blockade against the Palestinian people be lifted immediately and that humanitarian aid be allowed in.

Brazil strongly condemned the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, as well as the firing of rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel, and the placement of weapons in vacant schools. Israel could not neglect its responsibilities under international humanitarian law, namely to protect the Palestinian civilian population. The illegal Israeli occupation was the main cause of human rights violations in Palestine. An independent international commission of inquiry was needed.

United States was working intensively with others to ensure a return to the November 2012 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The United States demanded that Hamas immediately cease its rocket attacks against Israel, and supported Israel's right to self-defense. At the same time it was concerned about the rising numbers of civilian casualties in Gaza. The United States was committed to the existence of Israel as a Jewish and a democratic State, and the creation of an independent Palestinian State.

Ireland said it was appalled by the upsurge of violence in Gaza and especially the very high and unacceptable level of civilian casualties. It was clear that neither side was paying adequate regard to the cost of their actions on innocent civilians. It commended those working to bring about a ceasefire, especially Egypt. Ireland accepted Israel's right to defend its people but said that right did not negate the rights of others. Ireland supported the conduct of an appropriate investigation into breaches of international law.

Indonesia was distressed by the gravity of the suffering of the Palestinian people and strongly condemned Israel's indiscriminate and disproportionate military campaign against them. Israel may have the might but that did not necessarily make them right. Ignorance and lack of accountability for violations of international law would only reinforce the culture of impunity and lead to the recurrence of violence. Indonesia was also deeply disturbed that basic necessities were very hard to obtain, if not impossible.

Russia was deeply disturbed about the worsening situation in the Gaza Strip, especially the suffering of innocent citizens, such as women and children. More than 600 Palestinians had been killed since the onset of fighting. At the same time, Russia was concerned about the shelling of Israeli civilian targets by fighters of Hamas and other groups. The existing situation was another proof of the futility of the status quo, while any solution had to be worked out together with Arab States.

Algeria strongly condemned the immoral aggression by Israel against the unarmed and besieged Palestinian people before the eyes of the entire world. The scale of the systemic destruction of infrastructure and places of worship was shocking. The latest stage of Israel's crime was taking place in front of the entire international community – how could the massacre and murder of the innocent be justifiable in the name of self-defence? Algeria hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

United Arab Emirates condemned the flagrant violations of the rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, and its massacre in Gaza. It demanded that the occupying power immediately end its aggression and be held accountable for all loss of life, and that all parties support Egypt's initiative for a ceasefire. The United Arab Emirates, in partnership with UNWRA, was providing urgent humanitarian aid to Gaza, and called on the international community to also provide support.

Argentina expressed deep concern over the deterioration of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, which had killed hundreds of civilians including a significant number of children in what constituted a major tragedy which was moving the international community. The right to life and the right to physical integrity of people was being violated. The Council, together with the Security Council and the Secretary-General, must send a clear message that the hostilities and human rights violations must end.

Pakistan supported a just, peaceful and lasting settlement of the Palestinian issue through the creation of an independent, viable Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 borders. Israel's brazen refusal to accept an equitable solution had been the root cause of the continuing spiral of violence and bloodshed in the region. The disproportionate collective punishment meted out to the Palestinian people amounted to genocide. Pakistan called for an immediate establishment of an independent commission of inquiry.

Austria had repeatedly condemned the indiscriminate attacks by Hamas on civilian targets in Israel, but the Israeli military operations continued to inflict an unacceptable toll on Palestinian civilians. Civilians had to be protected, while medical workers and facilities had to be spared so that they could carry on their work. A continuous influx of humanitarian supplies to Gaza had to be ensured. The parties to the conflict were called upon to abide by all norms of international human rights and humanitarian law.

Saudi Arabia said the Council was meeting as the Security Council failed to make a decision to rescue the Palestinian people in Gaza from attacks by the Israeli army. While it appreciated the courageous efforts of the High Commissioner, Israel continued to violate the human rights of the Palestinian people in actions that constituted war crimes. Saudi Arabia stood strongly with the Palestinian people and supported the Egyptian initiative to reach a ceasefire.

Maldives said the Council should have taken more timely action on this issue. The atrocities committed by Israel violated every international law, including humanitarian law. It called on Israel to start protecting human life and dignity and immediately withdraw from the Gaza Strip. Israel claimed its actions were in self-defence – what danger did the four young boys playing on the Gaza beach pose to Israel? Time and again the world had continued to fail to take action over Palestine.

Kuwait said tens of thousands of unarmed civilians had had to flee their homes and Israel's killing machines. Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip was disproportionate and it impacted electricity, drinking water supplies and other basic services necessary for survival. Kuwait announced urgent assistance amounting to $10 million, and called for more urgent humanitarian aid for Gaza. The Council must live up to its responsibility to protect the rights of the Palestinian people against the might of the occupying power.

Costa Rica, as an unarmed, peace-loving country, categorically condemned ongoing attacks against the civilian population, and called for dialogue and reconciliation. Costa Rica strongly called upon all parties to agree to a ceasefire. Costa Rica had condemned both Palestinian militant attacks on Israeli targets, but also the disproportionate use of military force by the Israeli forces in Gaza. Only the commitment of all parties dedicated to peace could bring about a lasting solution.

Philippines was gravely concerned that the escalation of violence, through disproportionate military operations by Israeli armed forces, as well as rockets attacks by Palestinian armed groups, constituted serious breaches of human rights norms. The Philippines called on the concerned parties to allow unfettered delivery of humanitarian assistance, especially food and medicine. The Philippines reaffirmed its support to the implementation of a two-State solution.

Morocco said that the Israeli operation had led to hundreds of deaths and significant material damage, and was strongly condemned by Morocco. The attack on Gaza was part of a series of organized attacks aimed at stopping any progress toward a just settlement of the Palestinian conflict. Israel had crossed moral red lines, as nothing could justify attacks on women and children or bombing ambulances. The Council ought to establish an independent fact-finding commission in order to ensure accountability for crimes committed.

India expressed deep concern at the steep escalation of violence in Gaza, and supported all efforts for an immediate ceasefire. It was also concerned by the violence by non-State actors in the region which were obstacles to the peace process. The solution to the Palestine issue was a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine within recognized borders side-by-side and at peace with Israel, and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Mexico condemned the launching of rockets from Gaza to Israel and the use of violence in the Gaza Strip. Mexico was particularly concerned by reports of attacks against hospitals and civilian homes in Gaza, which were contrary to international law. Mexico said it would vote in favour of the draft resolution although it disagreed with the relevance of creating a fact-finding mission because it was unlikely to create the conditions required for the resumption of vital direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

Cuba said the human right to life – the most important of human rights – was once again blatantly being violated in the occupied Palestinian territories by the military forces of Israel. The new practice of warning inhabitants to leave their homes before a bomb destroyed them was a farce and a blatant violation of international humanitarian law. The genocide against the Palestinian people must end and those responsible must be made to answer for their crimes.

China viewed with deep pain and concern the ongoing Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians, which had caused a huge civilian death toll. China called upon all parties to respect human rights and international humanitarian law. It was most important to have a ceasefire at this moment, and halt the ground offensive and the launch of rockets. China urged all parties concerned to return to the negotiating table; a special envoy from China was in the region at the moment, engaged in intensive shuttle diplomacy.

United Kingdom condemned the appalling attacks being carried out by Hamas and other militant attacks, and supported Israel's right to take action to defend itself, but its use of force had to be proportionate. Both sides had to do their utmost to de-escalate the situation and alleviate the suffering. The British Government had increased its funding as the humanitarian situation worsened. The urgent priority was to bring the violence to an end, and in that regard the new Foreign Secretary was currently in the region.

Peru had expressed on several opportunities its deep concern over the situation in the Middle East, especially over the indiscriminate use of force by Israel against Gaza. Any act, practice or method of terrorism had to be condemned at the same time. The civilian population had to be ensured medical attention, and humanitarian corridors ought to be secured. The civilian population was gravely suffering and did not have access to essential services, and it was high time for the international community to act now.

South Africa said the Special Session was taking place at a critical juncture as the world witnessed the siege of the Gaza Strip and the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defence Forces, which must immediately cease the collective punishment of the Palestinians. South Africa equally condemned the firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel which put the lives of innocent civilians at risk.

Germany strongly condemned the continued firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel by Hamas and was appalled by attempts by Hamas and other militants to use civilians of Gaza as human shields. Israel had the right to defend its population against those criminal and unjustifiable attacks, but in doing so it must act proportionately and ensure the protection of civilians at all times.

Japan said despite efforts by the international community for a ceasefire it regretted that Palestinian militants did not accept the proposals, and urged all parties to refrain from excessive use of force to prevent civilian casualties. Following a humanitarian pause achieved through the mediation efforts of the United Nations on 17 July, it was essential that all parties continued cooperating with each other to realize unfettered humanitarian access in the affected area.

Chile expressed its dismay at the use of force by Israel against densely populated areas in Gaza, as well as the launch of rockets by Hamas against Israeli civilian targets. Free access for humanitarian aid had to be secured to the suffering population. The blockade of Gaza had already resulted in adverse effects on the population for years. Chile welcomed the good offices of the Secretary-General and Egypt in trying to end the crisis.

Republic of Korea was gravely concerned about the heavy casualties of innocent civilians of Palestine, who were forced to endure such unbearable suffering. The situation in the Gaza Strip had already been dire even before the onslaught of the current fighting. The Republic of Korea was also deeply concerned that various international efforts for a ceasefire had yet to produce an outcome. All parties were asked to exercise maximum restraint.

France stated that the current balance was appalling, with more than 630 dead and more than 100,000 displaced Palestinians. It was not acceptable that a country be threatened by a rocket barrage, nor for a civilian population to be exposed to the harsh military response leading to numerous casualties. While Israel's security had to be completely guaranteed, it was important for the Palestinian Authority to re-establish its control over the Gaza Strip, with the view of reunifying the Palestinian Territories.

Viet Nam said the deaths of innocent civilians, especially women and children, in the occupied Palestinian territories was unacceptable. Viet Nam shared the international community's deep concern, as expressed in the statement of the United Nations Secretary-General on 20 July. A ceasefire, not the continuation of violence, would help re-open peace talks and promote a safe and secure environment for the enjoyment of human rights by the peoples in the region.

Qatar condemned in the strongest terms the killing of unarmed civilians by the occupying power Israel and the collective punishment of the Palestinians, which were crimes of war and crimes against humanity. Gaza was an open-air prison and the civilians had nowhere to flee. Qatar especially referred to the terrible massacre of the Shejaiya neighbourhood. It called for the blockade on Gaza to be lifted.

Turkey said the Council should have reacted to the crisis much earlier. By continuing its massacres and other inhumane acts of collective punishment, Israel was only planting seeds of hatred in the region. Israel's unacceptable attacks, with the tacit approval of the self-imposed human rights champions, had had devastating consequences not only for the innocent Palestinian civilians but also for human rights and humanitarian law developed over the last 150 years.

Egypt condemned the recent Israeli attacks killing hundreds of Palestinians and injuring thousands. Israel, as the occupying power, should ensure that no excessive force was used and that the well-being of the Palestinians was guaranteed. The Egyptian initiative should be supported as a way of ending the suffering of the Palestinian people. Egypt had opened the Rafah border crossing from the early days of the Israeli intervention.

 


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