UN rights council approves probe into Israel's ship raid
The UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday condemned Israeli's "outrageous attack" on Gaza-bound aid ships and set up an independent international investigation into the raid.
The criticism came in a resolution proposed by Pakistan, Sudan and the Palestinian delegation and adopted with 32 countries voting in favour, three against and eight abstentions.
The resolution "Condemns in the strongest terms the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces against the humanitarian flotilla of ships which resulted in the killing and injuring of many innocent civilians from different countries."
It "decides to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian aid and human rights law" resulting from the attack.
It also authorises the president of the council to appoint members of the mission.
Israeli commandos boarded one of the aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip in a pre-dawn raid on Monday that left at least nine passengers dead. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists were also arrested.
The raid sparked global outrage and prompted states from the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to ask for the special session of the 47 member states in the UN rights council.
During the urgent sitting stretching over two days, not only Muslim states but others ranging from Laos to Peru and Iceland spoke out against Israel's move.
"No impunity can be accepted from this atrocious crime," said a Palestinian representative.
"These murderous attacks are characteristic tools used by Israel to derail every peaceful effort and silence every voice of moderation and reason," Pakistani ambassador Zamir Akram told the council Tuesday on behalf of the OIC.
The United States said on the first day of the sitting it was "deeply disturbed" by the violence. But it also said that it opposed the resolution.
US ambassador Eileen Donahoe said the text "rushes to judgement on a set of facts" that were only starting to emerge.
"It creates an international mechanism before giving the responsible government an opportunity to investigate this incident itself and thereby risks further politicising a sensitive and volatile situation," she added.
The Netherlands also voted against the text with its envoy saying that the rights council's investigation, parallel to one called for by the UN Security Council, "would not be conducive to relaunching the Middle East peace process."
Britain and France abstained saying they regretted that the resolution failed to reflect the language used by the Security Council which called "for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards."
Israeli ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar did not refer to the resolution when he spoke ahead of the vote, but he reiterated that the activists onboard the raided ship did not have peaceful motives.
He said Molotov cocktails, clubs and iron bars were used against Israeli soldiers.
The ambassador also claimed that "large quantities of cash were also found on board, some in the pockets of the attackers and most in courier belts ready for transfer to the Hamas."
© 2010 AFP