Israel-Gaza battle: UN body to analyze violence.

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The UN Human Rights Council has voted to investigate violence in the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The body accepted the decision, brought by a group of Islamic countries, by 24 votes to nine.

But the United States said the decision threatened to endanger progress in bringing calm to the region.

At least 242 people were killed in Gaza and 13 were killed in Israel during 11 days of fierce fighting that ended on Friday with an Egyptian-brokered truce.

The violence came after weeks of spiralling Israeli-Palestinian anxiety in occupied East Jerusalem which culminated in clashes at a holy site respected by both Muslims and Jews.

Hamas started firing rockets into Israel after warning it to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes from Israel on Gaza targets.
The textual content of the decision, brought by the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Palestinian delegation, calls for a everlasting Commission of Inquiry to be set up to report on rights violations in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

It additionally requires the analysis of “all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict”.

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Streaks of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile machine intercept rockets released from the Gaza Strip, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel (12 May 2021)
Michele Bachelet defined Hamas rocket fire as a clear violation of international law
Opening the council session, UN human rights chief Michele Bachelet said she was worried about the high level of casualties in Gaza and warned that Israeli strikes might constitute war crimes.

She also described Hamas rocket fire at Israel as indiscriminate and a “clear violation” of international humanitarian law.

Nine contributors, which include numerous Western countries, voted in opposition to the resolution and another 14 abstained. China and Russia were among those voting in favour.

The US, which only has observer repute at the council, did not take part in the debate.

But its mission to the UN in Geneva launched a statement after the vote, saying it deeply regretted the move.

“It is deeply unfortunate that while we and others have been working to uphold and reinforce the ceasefire, ensure humanitarian help to Gaza, and continue the hard work of discussions on how to achieve a lasting peace, some members of the Human Rights Council have chosen to engage in a distraction that adds nothing to ongoing diplomatic and humanitarian efforts,” the announcement said.

“The action today instead threatens to imperil the development that has been made in recent weeks.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the move as “yet another instance of the UN Human Rights Council’s blatant anti-Israel obsession”.

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But the Palestinian overseas ministry said it reflected the “willpower of the international community to move forward in the path of accountability, law enforcement, and safety of Palestinian human rights”.

Hamas, meanwhile, called for “instant steps to punish” Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a joint press convention with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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