Despite pressure from the US and Israel, the United Nations Human Rights Council has endorsed a report on war crimes committed during Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip in January.The report, authored by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, accuses both the Israeli army and Palestinian armed resistance groups of war crimes.
Judge Goldstone also recommended that, if the Israeli army and the Hamas government refuse to carry out their own investigations within six months, the case should be turned over to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.
During Thursday’s vote of the UN Human Rights Council, Israel and the US voted against the endorsement of the report, while a number of nations which had previously voted with Israel abstained from voting at all.
Representatives of the Hamas party, which represents the democratically-elected government of the Palestinian people, cheered the endorsement due to the report’s accusations against Israel. But the Hamas officials did not address whether they will follow up on the report’s recommendations that they investigate possible war crimes by Palestinian fighters in Gaza.
During Israel’s invasion of Gaza in January, Israeli troops killed an estimated 1400 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were civilians. Palestinian fighters killed 5 Israeli civilians during the same time period.
The resolution passed by a vote of 25 – 6, with 11 abstentions and five countries declining to vote.
In addition to endorsing the Goldstone report, the resolution also ‘strongly condemns all policies and measures taken by Israel, the occupying power, including those limiting access of Palestinians to their properties and holy sites’.