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Ireland abstains from UN vote to set up human rights inquiry in Gaza

Updated 17.50 The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a new resolution, to establish ...
Newstalk
Newstalk

07.52 23 Jul 2014


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Ireland abstains from UN vote...

Ireland abstains from UN vote to set up human rights inquiry in Gaza

Newstalk
Newstalk

07.52 23 Jul 2014


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Updated 17.50

The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a new resolution, to establish a commission of inquiry on current human rights issues in Gaza. The motion also calls on all parties to ensure respect for international law.

It was adopted with 29 votes in favour and 17 abstentions.

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Ireland was one of those who abstained from voting. Only the United States voted against.

Why did Ireland abstain from UN vote calling for Gaza inquiry?

It comes as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says there is a "strong possibility" Israel is violating international law in Gaza.

Opening an emergency debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva earlier, Navanethem Pillay also condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets and mortars by Hamas into Israel.

Ms Pillay said Israel's punitive house demolitions and killing of Palestinians raised serious concerns of excessive use of force by the Jewish state.

"It is imperative that Israel, Hamas and all Palestinian armed groups strictly abide by applicable norms of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. This entails applying the principles of distinction between civilians and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives; proportionality; and precautions in attack".

"Not abiding by these principles may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity" she said.

"There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes" Pillay said, citing attacks that have killed Palestinian civilians, including children.

She added that Israeli children and other civilians also had a right to live without constant fear of rocket attacks.

"Once again, the principles of distinction and precaution are clearly not being observed during such indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups" she said.

"War crimes and crimes against humanity are two of the most serious types of crimes in existence, and credible allegations that they have been committed must be properly investigated. So far, they have not been" she added.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) speaks after his meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (right)

Israel's UN representative said the debate was a knee-jerk reaction, adding that Israel's duty to defend itself was enshrined in International law and that it was Hamas that was committing war crimes.

John Ging is the director of the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs. He told Newstalk Lunchtime this is the worst conflict in Gaza in years:

The US Secretary of State John Kerry is in the region to try to broker an end to 16 days of violence in the Middle East.

The Palestinian death toll in the violence has now passed 600; while 30 Israelis have died.

The latest figures from the Israeli Defence Forces show that 2,160 rockets have been fired into Israel in the last 15 days or one rocket every 10 minutes.

UNICEF in Palestine is now calling for an urgent humanitarian pause:

Meanwhile one child in Gaza has been killed every hour of the day for the past two days.

That is according to the UN office for the coordination of Humanitarian affairs.

Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow is in Gaza. He told the Pat Kenny Show here are Newstalk earlier that the conditions there are likened to "third world":

Major airlines from America, Europe and Canada are refusing to fly to and from Israel after a rocket fired from Gaza landed near Ben Gurion Airport.

Many services have been suspended for at least 24 hours. However British Airways says it is carrying on with its twice-daily flights from London to Tel Aviv.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have suspended services for at least another 24 hours, while Germany's Lufthansa and Air France also suspended flights.

Low-fare airline EasyJet is also scrapping its scheduled services for today.

Greece's Aegean Airlines and Air Canada have also grounded flights to Tel Aviv.

The flight bans followed advice from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which extended its travel ban to stop American flights from travelling to Tel Aviv, for another 24 hours.

The European Aviation Safety Agency has recommended that all European airlines avoid Tel Aviv "until further notice".

John Kerry arrives in the Middle East for talks

Israel's Transportation Ministry has urged the airlines to reconsider their decision, insisting that the nation's busiest air hub is secure.

"Ben Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded and there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize," it said in a statement.

Jonathan Miller, Channel 4 news foreign affairs correspondent in Gaza, told Newstalk Breakfast earlier that Hamas will view the suspension of flights as a victory:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) speaks after a meeting with Rami Hamdallah (right), PM of the State of Palestine

While at home, members of the Palestinian community and their supporters will stage a 'die-in' outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and on Dublin's Grafton Street.

Former Leinster Rugby star Trevor Hogan will speak at the event:


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