UN Human Rights Council votes for investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians

The UN Human Rights Council has voted strongly in favour of an investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border this week.

  • For – 29 votes
  • Against – 2 votes (USA and Australia)
  • Abstained – 14

A television screen at the UN Human Rights Council shows how countries voted on a resolution approving an investigation into Israel's handling of deadly clashes on the Gaza border, on May 18, 2018. (Foreign Ministry)

New Zealand must not be on the Human Rights Council.

The Times of Israel: UN Human Rights Council votes to investigate Israel for Gaza protest deaths

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday voted to establish an investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians during protests along the Gaza border, in a move Israel rejected as being an attempt to undermine Israel’s right to self-defense.

The council voted 29 in favor and two against with 14 countries abstaining. Australia and the US were the two countries to oppose the decision. The council also condemned “the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians.”

The “independent, international commission of inquiry” mandated by the council will be asked to produce a final report next March.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the vote and the council as “irrelevant.”

It’s not irrelevant if there is good cause to investigate indiscriminate violence and killing – this applies to both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The investigation should look at whether either or both sides acted illegally. If Human Rights may have been breached then it is appropriate to investigate.

Next March is a long to wait for a result. A lot is likely to have happened in Gaza and Israel by then.

 

Violence in Gaza continues

The violence that flared with protests over the moving of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem continues in Gaza.

Reuters: Israeli forces kill Palestinian near Gaza border as Gaza buries dead

Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian near the Gaza-Israel border on Tuesday after thousands of Palestinians turned out for the funerals of dozens of protesters killed by Israeli troops a day earlier, local health officials said.

Sixty Palestinians were killed on Monday, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, including an eight-month-old baby that died from tear gas that her family said she inhaled at a protest camp near the border. More than 2,200 Palestinians were also injured by gunfire or tear gas, local medics said.

Monday’s bloodshed took place as the United States opened its new embassy in contested Jerusalem. For the past six weeks, Palestinians have been holding Gaza border demonstrations for the return of Palestinian refugees to areas that are now part of Israel.

Israel rejects any right of return, fearing that it would deprive the state of its Jewish majority.

Too bad about democracy.

Palestinian medical officials say 106 Gazans have now been killed since the start of the protests and nearly 11,000 people wounded, about 3,500 of them hit by live fire. Israeli officials dispute those numbers. No Israeli casualties have been reported.

Palestinian leaders have called Monday’s events a massacre, and the Israeli tactic of using live fire against the protesters has drawn worldwide concern and condemnation.

BBC – Gaza violence: Israelis and Palestinians in fierce exchanges at UN

There have been angry exchanges between Israeli and Palestinian envoys at the UN, as the diplomatic fallout over deadly violence in Gaza gathered pace.

Some 58 Palestinians were killed when Israeli troops fired on protesters on Monday, with funerals held on Tuesday.

The Palestinian envoy spoke of a “crime against humanity”, while Israel accused the rulers of Gaza, Hamas, of taking their own people hostage.

BBC: May urges ‘greater restraint’ by Israel after Gaza violence

Theresa May has urged an independent inquiry into violence on the border between Israel and Gaza which left a reported 58 Palestinians dead.

The prime minister said the use of live rounds by Israeli forces was “deeply troubling” and urged greater restraint.

While Palestinians had a legitimate right to protest, she said, she was concerned about extremist infiltration and the role Hamas had played.

Both Hamas and Israel have been responsible for the flare up in violence – as has Donald Trump in his provocative moving of the US embassy.

Earlier, Labour’s Emily Thornberry condemned a “horrific massacre”.

Here in New Zealand: NZ condemns Israel’s actions along Gaza border

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, on behalf of the government, raised concerns directly to the ambassador in New Zealand.

The violence showed that the decision by the US to open the new embassy was counter to efforts to find a peaceful resolution in the region, she said.

“At the time when the United States announced they’d be moving their representation to Jerusalem we stated strongly that we did not think that would take us closer to peace, and it hasn’t,” Ms Ardern said.

New Zealand also voted on a United Nations resolution emphasising the view that there should be a two-state solution, she said.

“This is a hotly contested issue within that peace process and as we’ve seen the results of the protest along the border of Gaza have been devastating.”

Ms Ardern was asked for her view on comments made by Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyadh Mansour, who said the Israeli action violated international law.

“It is the right of any nation to defend their border but this is a devastating, one-sided loss of life; we would condemn the violence that has occurred,” Ms Ardern said.

“And I think it’s plain to see the effects of this decision and the ramifications are wide reaching.”

That’s a fairly diplomatic response that acknowledges the complexities and the spread of blame for violence.

However the Greens have a more one-sided view:

And:

It’s a bloody mess with both Israel and Hamas in part responsible for the escalation.

Jerusalem Post – NO HOLDS BARRED: JERUSALEM ON FIRE WITH GRATITUDE TO PRESIDENT TRUMP

President Donald Trump has electrified the State of Israel with the embassy move. You have to see the excitement on the streets, especially Jerusalem, to understand the depth of gratitude. Flags are flying from every street light. Massive signs around the capital show the American and Israeli flags intertwined with giant thank yous to President Trump.

In a single week President Trump has not only established America’s embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, but also rid America of the shame of the Iran nuclear deal, which completely overlooked all of Iran’s sins. In doing so, he has created the potential for reining in the rogue regime in Tehran, curbing the ascendance of radical Islamists and advancing a foreign policy that recognizes evil and holds belligerent government accountable. Simultaneously, Trump has emerged as a great champion of the Jewish people and a protector of Israel.

A cynic could wonder whether the escalations against Iran and the Palestinians has been a deliberate plan by Israel, with Trump a willing partner.

It’s hard to see this turning out well. The violence in Gaza suggests it is more likely to get worse.

It’s worth looking back at a speech by Trump at Fort Dodge, Iowa: ““I would bomb the shit out of ’em. I would just bomb those suckers.”

It looks like Trump has been sucked into the Middle East mire.

 

 

 

Background to the Israel-Palestine conflict

Gezza says:

There so many versions of the history of the modern state of Israel and the Palestinian conflict biased to one side’s viewpoint or the other. This is best, neutral, five-minute summary of the history of the Palestinian-Jewish conflict I have seen, published Jan 2016.

Well worth a look imo

Worth a look in my opinion too for a simple summary of the background to the current Israel-Palestine conflict.

It looks like a good explanation to me of the problems in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

It’s easy to have empathy for both sides, and also to condemn some of the actions of both sides. Finding solutions that will end the conflict is an ongoing challenge.

 

Marama Davidson’s Gaza stunt

Green MP Marama Davidson will have gone to join a boat trying to defy the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza knowing very well that being detained was very likely. It has happened before, and lining up to be detain is a well known way of achieving publicity.

So is a show of concern for her situation genuine? Or is it playing the game some more?

Is Davidson an activist or a Member of Parliament?

Newshub: Concern for MP Marama Davidson detained by Israeli Navy

The group that sent Marama Davidson to Gaza to join humanitarian protests is worried about the lack of contact with the Green MP.

Kia Ora Gaza spokesman Roger Fowler says they haven’t heard from her since Zaytouna-Olivia, her peace flotilla boat bound for Gaza, was intercepted by the Israeli Navy.

“It was largely expected, because that’s the behaviour of the Israeli regime,” he told Newshub. “They’ve got a long track record of treating people in such a brutal and arrogant manner.”

That confirms the obvious, what happened was largely expected.

Kia Ora Gaza fundraised for Marama to join the Women’s Peace Boat to Gaza protest, dedicated to breaking the Israeli siege. She left New Zealand last month to join 12 other women on the flotilla.

Did they pay for her airfares to get there? Her wages are paid for by New Zealand taxpayers.

“We are concerned,” says Mr Fowler. “All communication has been cut ever since the boat was intercepted about 53 miles away from Gaza. It’s hard to know what Marama and the other women are going through.”

Israel says some of the boat’s occupants were already known to the authorities there, and have been deported. The others, including Ms Davidson, have been taken to Ashdod for processing. They are expected to be deported once that is complete.

I think that’s normal procedure…

“We’re asking our Government to demand the Israeli authorities release these women so they can carry on their journey to Gaza,” says Mr Fowler.

…so this is nothing but posturing.

Prime Minister John Key said it was a “less than perfect” look for a New Zealand MP to be detained, but warnings from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade “fall on deaf ears when it comes to that kind of protests from the Greens”.

It’s probably a near perfect look for the Green Party and for Kia Ora Gaza.

But Al Jazeera coverage doesn’t even mention Davidson, In Gaza’s women flotilla ‘challenging Israel’s blockade’

The 13 women participating on this leg of the journey hail from a variety of countries: Norway, Sweden, Australia, Egypt, Tunisia, Malaysia, Israel, the United States and Canada.

Nor in Israel intercepts boat seeking to break Gaza blockade:

Thirteen women, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, were travelling aboard the Zaytouna-Oliva sailboat in the Mediterranean towards Gaza, which is run by Hamas.

The Zaytouna-Oliva set sail from Barcelona in September and was carrying women of various nationalities in addition to Maguire, a Northern Ireland activist.

Dubbed the “Women’s Boat to Gaza”, it is part of the wider Freedom Flotilla Coalition that consists of pro-Palestinian boats that regularly seek to go to Gaza to try to break the blockade.

Maguire has been to Gaza by boat a number of times already, and has been deported by the Israelis already. Wilipedia:

On 28 September 2010, Maguire landed in Israel as part of a delegation of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. She was refused an entry visa by Israeli authorities on the grounds that she had twice in the past tried to run Israel’s naval embargo of the Gaza Strip and that a 10-year exclusion order was in effect against her.

So being detained and deported this time is fairly predictable.

Ms Davidson and others on board pre-recorded videos in the event they were captured. In hers, Ms Davidson calls the Israeli Navy the “oppression forces”.

Her visit to Israel is not likely to be for long.

Davidson’s new role as an international activist is not likely to have done much to improve  Green Party support, and it raises questions about their priorities in in New Zealand.

Another reason to appreciate what we have in New Zealand

Living in a young and very isolated country like New Zealand it’s hard to imagine what it’s like living in countries mired in conflict for millennia.

So I find it hard to understand the rights and wrongs of the Israel/Gaza situation. I can understand anger on both sides, I can understand wanting to stand ground and fight for freedoms and for safety for citizens.

I don’t like occupations and walls and virtual imprisonments. I don’t like the rocket firing into residential areas.

But I eally wonder at the mindsets that are entrenched there. And suggestions like this in an Op Ed in the Jerusalem Post by Girad Sharon (son of an ex Prime Minister) seem to do him or the JP any credit:

A decisive conclusion is necessary

There is no middle path here – either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip.

A strong opening isn’t enough, you also have to know how to finish – and finish decisively. If it isn’t clear whether the ball crossed the goal-line or not, the goal isn’t decisive. The ball needs to hit the net, visible to all. What does a decisive victory sound like? A Tarzan-like cry that lets the entire jungle know in no uncertain terms just who won, and just who was defeated.

To accomplish this, you need to achieve what the other side can’t bear, can’t live with, and our initial bombing campaign isn’t it.

THE DESIRE to prevent harm to innocent civilians in Gaza will ultimately lead to harming the truly innocent: the residents of southern Israel. The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences.

I agree with this:

There is no justification for the State of Gaza being able to shoot at our towns with impunity.

But this sounds way over the top:

We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.

That sounds sick, and I don’t see how it will heal the deep wounds in the Middle East.