In a significant development, the UN has voted to send an international war crimes probe to Gaza after the body’s leading human rights official slammed Israel’s reaction to protests along the border as “wholly disproportionate.”
The council voted through the resolution with 29 in favour and two opposed, while 14 states abstained.
Israel has condemned the resolution, which was put forward by a group of countries including Pakistan. The United States complained that it was an example of a biased focus on Israel by the council.
This was after Israeli soldiers killed nearly 60 Palestinians at mass border protests on Monday. Many videos showed how Israeli forces even threatened to attack the paramedics who made desperate attempts to take the injured from the battlefield.
“There is little evidence of any attempt to minimise casualties on Monday,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, according to London’s Independent news website.
The protests had been dubbed the Great March of Return, in support of the declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to land they or their ancestors fled from or were forced to leave in the war which followed Israel’s founding in 1948.
The Israeli government, which has long ruled out a mass return of Palestinians, said terrorists wanted to use the protests as cover to cross into its territory and carry out attacks.
Zeid told the emergency session on Gaza that the “stark contrast in casualties on both sides is… suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response” by Israel, reported BBC.
An Israeli soldier was “reportedly wounded, slightly, by a stone” on Monday, he said, while 43 Palestinians were killed at the site of the protests. Seventeen more Palestinians were killed away from what he called the “hot spots.”