U.S. “Regrets” UN Decision to Probe Alleged Crimes in Gaza

The meeting room of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in the Palace of Nations in Geneva. (Ludovic Courtès)

The United States said on Thursday that it deeply regretted a decision by the U.N. Human Rights Council to launch an international investigation into crimes that may have been committed in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The action today instead threatens to imperil the progress that has been made,” said the statement issued by the U.S. mission to the U.N. in Geneva.

The United States, which has observer status and no vote at the Geneva forum, did not speak in the all-day special session which adopted a resolution brought by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and the Palestinian delegation to the U.N.

The resolution passed with 24 of the council’s 47 members in favor, nine opposed and 14 abstaining.

It would mark the first time that the UNHRC has created a permanent fact-finding body with respect to any U.N. member state.

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Meirav Eilon Shahar denounced the council’s false moral equivalence of comparing Hamas and Israel, when in truth there is “an immoral equivalence, between Israel, a democracy that seeks peace and abides by international law, and a murderous, extreme terrorist organization.”

Shahar rebuked the members for ignoring Hamas brutalities: “You cannot be pro-Palestinian if you do not condemn Hamas for using its own people, the Palestinian people, as human shields. You cannot be pro-Palestinian if you continue to allow Hamas to use international aid to build terror infrastructure beneath schools, residential buildings, and hospitals,” Shahar said.

“Hamas’s complete disregard for Palestinian lives worked” because the international community is willing “to blame Israel for every death and because of the inaction by the International Community to ensure Hamas’s arsenal is dismantled,” she said.

Those remarks came in response to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who acknowledged that Hamas “rockets are indiscriminate and fail to distinguish between military and civilian objects, and their use, thereby, constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law.

“However, the actions of one party do not absolve the other from its obligations under international law,” Bachelet maintained. She did not accuse of Hamas of potential war crimes.

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