UN rights body backs call for accountability over alleged war crimes in Gaza conflict

The UN’s top human rights body backed calls Friday for accountability in last year’s conflict in Gaza, in which hundreds of Palestinian civilians and six Israeli civilians were killed.

BERLIN — The U.N.’s top human rights body backed calls Friday for accountability in last year’s conflict in Gaza, in which hundreds of Palestinian civilians and six Israeli civilians were killed.

The decision by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council has no binding effect, but adds to pressure for war crimes prosecutions before the International Criminal Court.

Israel condemned the move, saying it was one-sided and ignored the fact that Israel is conducting its own investigations into possible wrongdoing.

Forty-one of the council’s 47 members voted in favour of the resolution, which cited a recent U.N. report concluding that both Israel and Palestinian militant groups may have committed grave crimes during the conflict.

Five countries abstained while the United States voted against the text, saying it was biased against Israel. European countries backed the resolution, but said they were disappointed it didn’t explicitly mention rockets fired by Palestinian militant group Hamas – which controls Gaza – toward civilian areas in Israel.

More than 2,200 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, were killed during the fighting, according to U.N. and Palestinian officials, while 73 people, including six civilians, died on the Israeli side.

The resolution stressed that all those responsible for human rights violations must be held to account and effective remedies should be given to all victims, including reparations.

Israel has strongly resisted allegations its troops violated international law, claims that could have serious implications after Palestinians joined the International Criminal Court, where they are pursuing war crimes charges against Israel.

“The U.N. Human Rights Council is not interested in the facts and is not really interested in human rights,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the council’s decision.

He added that Israel will continue to defend its citizens against “those who call for its destruction and take daily action to achieve this goal.”

Palestinian U.N. envoy Ibrahim Khraishi welcomed the resolution.

“I think those who oppose this resolution or those who abstain from the vote will be contributing to ongoing violations and abuses against civilians,” he said.

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