A new report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) accuses Israel of inflaming tensions with the Palestinians and prolonging the conflict through the “perpetual occupation” of Palestinian land and discrimination. The findings were released in a report by a UN Commission of Inquiry (COI). It was the result of an investigation ordered by the UN after an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza last year, which began when the Hamas terror group fired rockets into Israeli civilian areas. The UN office says the intense fighting killed at least 261 people, including 67 children, in Gaza, and 14 people, including two children, in Israel. Israel says most of the people killed in Gaza were terrorists and that they indiscriminately fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israeli territory during the war.
The report identified Israel’s “perpetual occupation” of Palestinian territory as the “underlying root cause” of recurrent tensions, and said “the persistent discrimination against Palestinians throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the blockade of Gaza have all contributed to cycles of violence”. Israel rejected the findings as “part and parcel of the witch hunt carried out by the Human Rights Council against Israel.” “The Commission members were only appointed to their roles because of their public and well-known anti-Israel stances, in direct opposition to the rules set out by the United Nations,” it said. Israel opposed the creation of the UN commission from the very beginning and refused to grant its members access to Israeli or Palestinian territories. Therefore, the commission relied on testimony collected from Geneva and Jordan. Israel accused the commission of ignoring Palestinian terrorism and fuelling anti-Semitism.
The Biden administration also condemned the UN report, saying the “open-ended and vaguely defined nature” of the commission “represents a one-sided, biased approach that does nothing to advance the prospects for peace.” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said that “Israel is the only country subject to a standing agenda item at the HRC and has received disproportionate focus at the HRC compared to human rights situations elsewhere in the world.” “While no country is above scrutiny, the existence of this COI in its current form is a continuation of a longstanding pattern of unfairly singling out Israel,” he added. The commission also criticized Palestinian leaders and accused the Palestinian Authority of frequently referring to Israel’s actions “as a justification for its own human rights violations and as the core reason for failure to hold legislative and presidential elections.”
The Palestinian Authority has long been accused of corruption and revering Palestinian terrorists as martyrs. Despite the criticism, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry applauded the report for finding “beyond any doubt, that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and discrimination against Palestinians are the root causes behind the recurrent tensions, instability and prolongation of conflict in the region.” Meanwhile, the report blamed the “de facto authorities in Gaza,” the Hamas terror group, of showing “little commitment towards upholding human rights, and little adherence to international humanitarian law. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2008 and has fought four wars with Israel since then. Rights groups have accused Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during those conflicts. Israel rejects these allegations and accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields.
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