At the request of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which was represented by Pakistan, the United Nations has agreed to launch an international investigation into deadly Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip earlier this month, the Pakistani foreign office said on Friday.
The decision was made on Thursday at a special session of the UN Human Rights Council called at the request of the OIC and Palestine. During the session, UN high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet said the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza between May 10 and May 21 might constitute war crimes.
“Pakistan, representing the OIC, presented a resolution at this special session of the Human Rights Council to ensure compliance with international law and to set up an independent commission to investigate Israeli aggression in Palestine,” the foreign office said in a statement.
“Following a discussion at a special session of the Human Rights Council on Palestine, the resolution was adopted by a clear majority,” it said.
The foreign office said this was a “major diplomatic achievement” for Pakistan.
By a vote of 24 states in favor, and nine against, with 14 abstentions, the 47-member council adopted the resolution brought by the OIC through Pakistan, and the Palestinian delegation to the UN.
Israel rejected it and said it would not cooperate.
Israel’s main ally, the United States, said it ‘deeply regretted’ the decision in the forum, where it has observer status and no vote.
The US stand was immediately criticized by Pakistan’s ambassador to the OIC, Khalil Hashmi, who was representing the OIC during the special session.
“Regrettably, the self-professed global champions of human rights continue to shield the occupier from global accountability, and literally provide arms and ammunitions for its widely reported war crimes and crimes of apartheid against the Palestinian people,” Hashmi said.
European countries were split, with Austria, Britain and Germany voting against. France and the Netherlands abstained.
During the special session, Bachelet said her office had verified the deaths of 270 Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including 68 children, during this month’s violence. Most were killed in Gaza.
“Despite Israel’s claims that many of these buildings were hosting armed groups or being used for military purposes, we have not seen evidence in this regard,” Bachelet said. “If found to be indiscriminate and disproportionate, such attacks might constitute war crimes.”
Rockets fired toward Israel by Hamas — the Palestinian group that controls Gaza — killed 10 Israelis and residents during the flareup and had violated international humanitarian law, Bachelet said.