Vote comes as rocket explodes in southern Israel

UNHRC backs Israel-bashing Gaza report, with full European support

EU nations lament lack of Hamas criticism but approve motion anyway; only US votes against resolution which Jerusalem calls an ‘anti-Israeli manifesto’

Chairperson of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 war in Gaza, Mary McGowan Davis (right) and commission member Doudou Dienne (left) during a press conference on their report at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 22, 2015. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)
Chairperson of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 war in Gaza, Mary McGowan Davis (right) and commission member Doudou Dienne (left) during a press conference on their report at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 22, 2015. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

The UN Human Rights Council voted in favor of a resolution on Friday backing the Gaza Conflict Commission of Inquiry, which last week issued a report charging that Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes during Operation Protective Edge last summer.

Forty-one of the 47 UNHRC council members voted in favor of the resolution, including the eight sitting European Union members: France, Germany, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Latvia and Estonia.

Only the US, which last week slammed the report as biased, voted against. Israeli officials thanked the US for its “principled” position.

The vote in Geneva coincided with the explosion of a rocket in southern Israel.

The resolution made no mention of Hamas or of its role in the conflict, though it stressed that all those responsible for human rights violations must be held to account and effective remedies should be given to all victims, including reparations.

It also recommends the UN General Assembly take on the matter “until it is satisfied that appropriate action” is taken to implement the report’s recommendations.

The decision by the council has no binding effect, but adds to pressure for war crimes prosecutions before the International Criminal Court.

A UN Human Rights Council Meeting in Geneva in May 2013. (photo credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)
A UN Human Rights Council Meeting in Geneva. (photo credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

Israel’s representative in Geneva Eviatar Manor called the resolution an “anti-Israeli manifesto” and referenced a classic children’s tale by proclaiming that in the case of the UNHRC, “the emperor has no clothes.”

He said the resolution “distorts the intention of the authors of the report by completely ignoring alleged violations of (international law) committed by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.”

European countries said they were disappointed the resolution didn’t explicitly mention rockets fired by Hamas toward civilian areas in Israel, but elected to back it nonetheless.

Five nations abstained: Kenya, Ethiopia, Macedonia, India and Paraguay. Israeli officials noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in the last few days with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Manor went on to assert that Israel had gone to great lengths to protect the civilian population in Gaza during the conflict, and said all of its actions were intended to defend its civilian population from Gaza attacks.

He added that Israel was committed to investigating allegations of human rights violations and that over 100 such cases were being reviewed by the military.

But he decried the conduct of the “highly politicized, obsessive” UNHRC, which he claimed was “ignoring serious situations of human rights violations across the globe and spending its scarce resources of money and manpower on reports on my country.”

Palestinian envoy Ibrahim Khraishi welcomed the resolution.

The Gaza commission report, headed by Mary McGowan Davis, placed blame on Israel and Hamas for their actions during the war but focused more on Israel’s role. It also accepted the Palestinian death count, which has Israel killing 1,462 civilians out of a total of 2,251 Palestinians who died — a 65 percent ratio. Israel has said that up to half of those killed on the Palestinian side were combatants and lay the blame for the civilian death toll on Hamas for placing its military infrastructure among civilians.

The McGowan Davis report, which found that Israeli airstrikes on residential buildings caused many civilian deaths and suggested Israeli leaders knowingly endangered them, was roundly dismissed as biased and flawed by Israeli officials.

Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel staff and AP contributed to this report.

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