Jerusalem: Describing UNHCR as a “kangaroo court”, Israel has slammed a move to probe its military’s actions against Hamas in Gaza as a “travesty” that will encourage militants to use civilians as human shields.
“This investigation by a kangaroo court is a foregone conclusion,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.
The decision by the UNHRC [UN Human Rights Council] is a travesty, it said.
UNHCR ordered the probe after holding a special emergency session in Geneva on Israel Defence Forces’ (IDF) Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in which 720 Palestinians, mostly civilians as per the UN, have been killed and thousands injured.
Israel’s close ally US was the only one of 47 member states to oppose the probe supported by 29 countries, including India.
Seventeen countries abstained, including the UK, Germany and France, who have verbally backed Israel against Hamas.
Prior to the vote, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that Israel could be committing war crimes in Gaza.
“There seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated in a manner that could amount to war crimes,” she told the UNHRC.
Israel said such a probe only “emboldens” Hamas and “encourages its policy of using civilians as human shields”.
“Rather than investigate Hamas, which is committing a double war crime by firing rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians, the UNHRC calls for an investigation of Israel,” the PMO said.
Hamas has launched 2,249 rockets against Israel over the past 16 days, the Israeli amy said.
The UNHRC should be investigating Hamas’ use of hospitals as military command centers, schools as a weapons depots and its placement of missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes and mosques, the PMO noted.
“The UNHRC is sending a message to Hamas and terrorist organisations everywhere that using civilians as human shields is an effective strategy,” it said.
The PMO also equated this probe to the infamous UNHRC Goldstone Report on Israel’s military incursion into Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, known as Operation Cast Lead.
“The predictable result will be the libeling of Israel and even greater use of human shields in the future by Hamas,” the statement emphasised.
“Those who will pay the price will be not only Israelis but also Palestinians who Hamas will redouble its efforts to use as human shields in the future,” it added.
Pillay also condemned Hamas for “indiscriminate attacks” on Israel.
Taking a dig at the UNHCR decision, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman labelled the UN body as the “council for the rights of terrorists”.