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UN Human Rights Council to mull international probe after Gaza conflict

The UN Human Rights Council will consider launching a broad, international investigation into alleged abuses in the latest Gaza conflict and also into “systematic” abuses, according to a proposal.

The draft resolution will be discussed during a special session of the council Thursday, requested amid 11 days of deadly violence between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza this month.

The text, presented by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, calls for the UN top rights body to “urgently establish an ongoing independent, international commission of inquiry… in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in Israel.”

The investigators, the text says, should probe “all alleged violations and abuses” of international law linked to the tensions that sparked the latest violence.

A Palestinian woman walks past a destroyed building in the al-Rimal commercial district in Gaza City on May 22, 2021, following a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian terror groups. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)

But the draft text goes far beyond the most recent conflict, also calling for investigators to probe “underlying root causes of recurrent tensions and instability, including systematic discrimination and repression based on group identity.”

The investigation should focus on establishing facts and gather evidence and other material that could be used in legal proceedings, and as far as possible should identify perpetrators to ensure they are held accountable, it says.

“Long-standing and systemic impunity for international law violations has thwarted justice, created a protection crisis and undermined all efforts to achieve a just and peaceful solution,” the draft text says.

It remains unclear whether there will be enough support at the Human Rights Council to pass the resolution.

Rockets from Gaza, on right, are seen in the night sky fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on May 14, 2021, while Iron Dome interceptor missiles, on left, rise to meet them. (Anas Baba/AFP)

Twenty of the council’s 47 members were among the 66 countries that backed holding Thursday’s special session, which was requested by Pakistan and the Palestinian Authority.

The rights council holds three regular sessions each year, but can hold special sessions if at least a third of members support the idea.

Thursday will mark the 30th extraordinary meeting of the United Nations’ top rights body since its creation 15 years ago, and it will be the ninth focused on Israel.

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