UNHRC chief says Israel’s accountability mechanisms not in compliance with international standards of independence, impartiality, effectiveness

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UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Monday, during a video conference briefed his committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, expressing grave concern over the rise of Palestinians being killed along the border between Gaza strip and Israel.

“I remind all parties that any disproportionate or indiscriminate use of weapons which lead to the death and injury of civilians is prohibited by international humanitarian law,” he said.

“Though the United Nations and the Government of Egypt have made efforts to maintain a ceasefire between Israel and the militant group Hamas which controls Gaza, the situation remains extremely fragile,” he said. “I urge the parties and all those with influence to do their utmost to avoid another round of violence and misery.”

He highlighted the dire conditions in which the people of Palestine were living in. He regretted that these regular waves of violence “compound the already extreme humanitarian crisis”, which he denounced as “entirely man-made and entirely preventable”, including “skyrocketing unemployment and poverty, crumbling infrastructure, record food-dependency and a bleak political horizon”.

He stated that the funding crisis currently faced by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) – which plays a crucial role in providing protection, education and health services as well as employment to the refugee populations – is likely to further aggravate the situation.

While talking about the recent killings along the Gaza strip, he said that the council had resolved in May to set up an independent and international Commission of Inquiry into the matter.

“It is essential that the authorities cooperate with the future Commission to advance accountability for these killings, as well as all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law”, Zeid said.

He also said that although “Israel has put in place a number of accountability mechanisms, there are serious concerns that these are not in compliance with the international standards of independence, impartiality, and effectiveness.”

Earlier, this week, Hamas and Israel agreed to a ceasefire, a spokesman for the Palestinian party said, after five people including an Israeli soldier were killed, reported PTI.

“With international and UN efforts, we reached (an agreement) to return to the previous state of calm between the (Israeli) occupation and the Palestinian factions,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.

Both Egypt and the UN acted as mediators, the spokesman quoted.

Earlier on Friday, an Israel solider was killed by Palestinian fighters on the Gaza border. In July, Israel had closed the main cargo crossing, Kerem Shalom. The crossing would only be opened for ‘humanitarian equipment’ to be sent through- including food and medicine.

The military said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered the closure of Kerem Shalom on Monday in “retaliation to the arson attacks by Palestinians”.

“In light of the ongoing arson terror and additional terror attempts, led by the Hamas terror organization,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu vowed to ‘use a heavy hand against Hamas’, a Palestinian militant group dominating Gaza, not giving further details.

A spokesman of Hamas called the move, “a new crime against humanity”.

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