Muslim countries seek U.N. probe into possible crimes in Gaza conflict

Stephanie Nebehay
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: 45th session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - Muslim countries are calling on the United Nations to investigate possible crimes committed during the 11-day conflict between Israel and the Palestinian military group Hamas and to establish command responsibility.

The U.N. Human Rights Council will hold a special session on the latest conflict on Thursday, at the request of Pakistan, as coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the state of Palestine.

Those countries submitted a draft resolution late on Tuesday that would establish an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate all human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, since April 13.

It would also examine all underlying root causes of tensions and instability, "including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity," the draft said.

The independent team would collect and analyse evidence of crimes perpetrated, including forensic material, "in order to maximise the possibility of its admissibility in legal proceedings".

Reporting back in June 2022, it would identify those responsible to try and end impunity and ensure legal accountability.

Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, said in a tweet last week that convening the session "targeting Israel is testament to the clear anti-Israeli agenda of this body". Its sponsors were "only rewarding the actions of Hamas, a terrorist organization", she added, referring to the Islamist rulers of the coastal strip.

Since being set up in 2006, the U.N. rights council, a 47-member forum, has held eight previous special sessions that have condemned Israel and set up several probes into alleged war crimes.

The United States rejoined the forum under President Biden after the Trump administration quit accusing it of an anti-Israel bias. The U.S. delegation currently has observer status but no vote.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the Middle East on Tuesday and pledged that Washington would provide new aid to help rebuild Gaza as part of efforts to bolster a ceasefire between its Hamas Islamist rulers and Israel.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)