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India, 13 Other Countries Abstain from UNHRC Resolution on Gaza Violence, Majority Vote in Favour

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City. (AP)

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City. (AP)

Besides India, 13 other members, including France, Italy, Nepal and Japan, abstained.

India on Thursday abstained from voting on the United Nations Human Rights Council‘s resolution to open an international investigation into violations surrounding the latest Gaza violence, and the “systematic" abuses in Palestinian territories and Israel.

Besides India, 13 other members, including France, Italy, Nepal and Japan, abstained.

The resolution was nevertheless passed with 24 of the council’s 47 members voting in favour of the probe.

This is the council’s first-ever open-ended commission of inquiry (COI), the highest-level investigation that can be ordered by the council.

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Countries that voted in favour include Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Russia, Mexico and Sudan, while Germany, UK and Austria were among those who voted against it.

The independent investigation will have a broad mandate to look into all alleged violations, not just in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, but also in Israel during hostilities that were halted by a ceasefire on May 21.

Opening the session, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet voiced particular concern about the “high level of civilian fatalities and injuries" from the attacks on Gaza, and warned the Israeli attacks on the enclave “may constitute war crimes".

She also said Hamas’s “indiscriminate" firing of rockets at Israel was “a clear violation of international humanitarian law".

Israel rejected the resolution adopted by the Geneva forum and said it would not cooperate. “Today’s shameful decision is yet another example of the UN Human Rights Council’s blatant anti-Israel obsession," Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement accusing the forum of whitewashing “a genocidal terrorist organisation".

The Palestinian foreign ministry saluted a move saying it “reflects the determination of the international community to move forward in the path of accountability, law enforcement, and protection of Palestinian human rights."

The investigators, the text said, should 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 for legal proceedings, and should aim to identify perpetrators to ensure they are held accountable, it said.

It also urges countries to “refrain from transferring arms when they assess… that there is a clear risk that such arms might be used in the commission or facilitation of serious violations or abuses."

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first published:May 28, 2021, 12:50 IST