After a seven hour emergency session, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted overwhelmingly 29-1 (17 abstentions) to establish independent Commission of Inquiry into Israel’s ongoing ground offensive in Gaza and accusations of war crimes. The US was the single vote against the resolution, with most European countries, including the UK, abstaining.
In a statement, the UNHRC said:
“The Council strongly condemned the failure of Israel, the occupying Power, to end its prolonged occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; and condemned in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 13 June 2014 that may amount to international crimes, directly resulting in the killing of more than 650 Palestinians, most of them civilians and more than 170 of whom were children, the injury of more than 4,000 people and the wanton destruction of homes, vital infrastructure and public properties.”
The inter-governmental body also “condemned all violence against civilians wherever it occurred, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of rocket fire” and called for an immediate end to hostilities.
Overnight, Israeli attacks further escalated the Palestinian death toll in Gaza to 714, with more than 80% believed to be civilians. Three more Israeli soldiers were also killed on Wednesday, bringing the total to 32.
Meanwhile, German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted a photograph of Israel and Palestine from aboard the International Space Station (ISS) last night, in what he described as his “saddest photo yet”.
The European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut said that the astronauts could see the rockets and explosions firing over Gaza from space.
— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) July 23, 2014