UN body set to accuse Israel of crimes against humanity

Record number of reports criticizing Israel said to be released by UN next month

Watchdog group expects UNHRC to publish findings of investigation into Gaza clashes, allege human rights violations in the Golan Heights

A picture taken on June 18, 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland, shows a general view during the opening of the 38th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. (AFP/Alain Grosclaude)
A picture taken on June 18, 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland, shows a general view during the opening of the 38th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. (AFP/Alain Grosclaude)

The United Nations Humans Rights Council is expected to release a series of reports critical of Israel next month, including one reportedly accusing the military of war crimes over its response to violent protests by Palestinians on the Gaza border.

According to the pro-Israel watchdog group UN Watch, other reports are set to accuse Israel of alleged human rights violations in the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War war, and in territories claimed by the Palestinians for a future state, Channel 12 news reported Thursday.

The main focus of the meeting will likely be the findings of an investigation that the UNHRC approved in May into Israeli troops’ killings of Palestinians in riots along the security fence with the Gaza Strip.

Israel vowed not to cooperate with the probe and defended its response to the clashes, which it has accused the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group of using as cover to carry out attacks and attempts to breach the border.

The investigation is being headed by Santiago Canton of Argentina, a former aide to US president Jimmy Carter.

Palestinians climb the security fence along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, during clashes east of Gaza City, on February 15, 2019. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Quoting an unnamed official at the UN, Channel 12 said this week that the report is expected to frame Israel’s actions as war crimes and crimes against humanity, while portraying the Gazans’ protests as legitimate.

Some 190 Palestinians have been killed since the weekly “March of Return” clashes began last March, according to figures from the Associated Press, dozens of whom were later acknowledged by Hamas as its members.

An Israeli soldier was also killed during that time by sniper fire from Gaza.

Despite diplomatic opposition by Israel and the United States, the UNHRC’s March session is reportedly expected to also include the publication of a list of companies operating in areas captured in the 1967 war, potentially exposing them to legal action overseas.

The UNHRC first voted in 2016 for the creation of the database, which is intended to list all companies doing business with Israelis situated in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, but its release has since been repeatedly delayed.

Hillel Neuer, the head of UN Watch, said the number of reports focusing on Israel set to be released next month appeared to be a “world record.”

“It’s time to say enough is enough,” Neuer said in a video filmed outside UNHRC headquarters in Geneva, where UN Watch is planning a rally for March 18.

He also accused the council of singling out Israel “while giving a free pass to the world’s worst abusers.”

Israel is not a member of the 47-member UNHRC, while the US pulled out in June 2018 and later cut its funding to the organization, partly due to what Washington called its “unrelenting bias” against Israel.

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