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July 24, 2014

58 more Palestinians killed in Gaza

 
July 24, 2014

GENEVA/GAZA CITY: The United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday called for immediate international protection for the Palestinian people, as Israel intensified its attacks on Gaza, killing 58 more Palestinians.
UN rights chief Navi Pillay told the emergency session on Israel’s Gaza offensive at the UN Human Rights Council that Israel’s military actions in the Gaza Strip could amount to war crimes.
“There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes,” Pillay said, citing attacks that have killed Palestinian civilians, including children.
She said Israelis also had a right to live without constant fear of rocket attacks. “Once again, the principles of distinction and precaution are clearly not being observed during such indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups,” she said.
At the end of an emergency session, the 47-member Geneva state forum adopted a resolution presented by Palestinians by a vote of 29 states in favour, one against (the United States) with 17 abstentions (including some European Union members).
In Gaza City, the Israeli air strikes killed 58 people, medics said.The strike took the Wednesday’s toll to more than 58 Palestinians killed and the overall toll to more than 660, according to figures from emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra.
Since the early morning, there have been major clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants in Khuzaa, which lies on the Israeli border, some six kilometres (four miles) southeast of Khan Yunis. Of the 58 Palestinians killed in fighting on Wednesday, most of the victims were in Khuzaa, medics say.
“Israel is in the process of committing hideous crimes,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told the session. He said residential areas had been flattened, with 2,500 houses destroyed and medical centres targeted.
“What Israel is

doing is a crime against humanity,” he said. Arab nations and fellow members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.Israel’s UN ambassador, Eviator Manor, hit back. “Their Pavlovian instinct demands they react against Israel, in order to divert attention from their own human rights violation,” he told the council.
“Hamas is committing war crimes when it fires rockets indiscriminately at Israel towns and villages. Hamas is protecting its launching sites with the civilian residents of Gaza. Another war crime,” he said.
“And this council sits in judgement of Israel? There can be no moral symmetry between a terrorist aggressor and a democracy defending itself,” he added. - ´not our enemies´ - Manor vowed that Israel would “destroy” Hamas´ military infrastructure.
“However, the Gaza residents are not our enemies. Israel is fully committed to international law,” he said. He blamed Hamas for the situation facing Gaza residents.“Israel deeply rejects any civilian losses caused by its operation, and has already started investigating itself. We do not confront the Salvation Army but a brutal terrorist organisation,” he said.
The resolution condemned “the widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms” since Israel launched its offensive last month.The resolution also called on the council to “urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry” tasked with probing “all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law”.
The aim, it said, was to “establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated and to identify those responsible, to make recommendations, in particular, on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable, and on ways and means to protect civilians against any further assaults”.
It also called for the “immediate International Protection for the Palestinian people” and requested that Switzerland, as guardian of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in warfare, organise an urgent conference on the situation in the region.
The Gaza offensive, which marks the worst Israeli-Palestinian violence since two spikes in conflict in 2009 and 2012, has already claimed the lives of 639 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 31 Israelis.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, US Secretary of State John Kerry took his truce mission to Israel Wednesday as the conflict in Gaza entered its 16th day and world airlines suspended flights over rocket fears.
As air traffic thinned over Tel Aviv airport, Kerry flew in from Cairo for whirlwind talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah, despite a US aviation warning on flights into Israel after a rocket struck near the runway a day earlier.
And there was no let-up in the violence, with neither IsraelAt the start of a flying visit to Israel, Kerry said that regional diplomacy efforts had made some progress but said more time was needed.
“We have certainly made some steps forward, but there is still work to be done,” Kerry said in Jerusalem at the start of a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon whom he also met in Cairo on Monday.

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