Khalil Hamra / AP

UN human rights body backs call for accountability in Gaza war

Resolution by UN Human Rights Council has no binding effect, but adds pressure for war crimes prosecutions

The United Nation's top human rights body on Friday backed calls for accountability in last year's conflict in Gaza, in which more than 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed, and Gaza’s infrastructure was decimated.

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 favor of the resolution, which cited a recent U.N. report concluding that both Israel and Palestinian armed groups may have committed grave crimes during the 50-day 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 group Hamas — which controls Gaza — toward civilian areas in Israel.

More than 2,200 Palestinians, the majority 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.

Eviatar Manor, Israel's ambassador at the U.N. in Geneva, accused the council of losing sight of its purpose and called the resolution "an anti-Israeli manifesto." He said Israeli investigations should be allowed to run their course.

An Israeli probe concluded in June that the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza during the conflict were both “lawful” and “legitimate” — a finding that human rights activists and Palestinians denounced.

Karim Lahidji, President of the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights, said in a statement: "By supporting this milestone resolution, the EU sends a message that ... impunity will not prevail."

Palestinian envoy Ibrahim Khraishi also welcomed the resolution.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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