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UN Human Rights Council Approves Gaza Inquiry

Exclusive Focus on Israeli Violations Diminishes the Credibility of the Council’s Action

(Geneva, January 13, 2009) – The United Nations Human Rights Council’s vote to investigate violations in the Gaza crisis by Israel alone instead of by both sides weakens the credibility of the investigation, Human Rights Watch said today.

The council voted on January 12, 2009, to dispatch an urgent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by Israel against the Palestinian people. The resolution was approved 33 to 1, with 13 abstentions.

“The crisis in Gaza is overwhelming and a priority for Council action,” said Julie de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. ”But the Council compromised what could have been a strong response by focusing only on Israel’s conduct and ignoring Hamas’s behavior.”

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly documented Israeli abuses in Gaza, including the devastating humanitarian impact of the 19-month blockade. It has called for investigation of the January 6 attack that killed some 40 displaced persons at a UN school, and of actions that unnecessarily place civilians in danger, including the use of white phosphorous in populated areas.

“Highlighting the abuses of both sides does not, and should not, imply equating the conduct of both sides,” De Rivero said. “A credible inquiry requires examining all aspects of the conflict and its impact on civilians, and being open to investigating all alleged abuses.”

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