Just hours after a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report accused Israel of showing “blatant disregard for Palestinian lives” and commiting war crimes in its massacre of over 100 nonviolent demonstrators in Gaza over the past several weeks, the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution that condemns Israel’s “excessive, disproportionate, and indiscriminate” use of live fire against peaceful Palestinians.
“The international community needs to rip up the old playbook, where Israel conducts investigations that mainly whitewash the conduct of its troops, and instead impose real costs for such blatant disregard for Palestinian lives.”
—Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch
“We cannot remain silent in the face of the most violent crimes and human rights violations being systematically perpetrated against our people,” Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the U.N., said in a speech following Wednesday’s vote.
The resolution denouncing Israel’s murderous behavior—which was approved by a 120-8 vote, with 45 abstentions—also requests proposals from the U.N. Secretary General “ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation.”
In a last-ditch effort to thwart the U.N. resolution, the United States tried to ram through an amendment blaming Hamas for initiating violence in the Gaza Strip. The amendment ultimately failed—probably because, as media analyst Adam Johnson points out, “100 percent of those killed [during the recent anti-occupation protests] were killed by Israel.”
Predictably, the U.S. voted against the final measure.
The U.N. vote came on the heels of HRW’s report documenting the persistent “pattern of Israeli forces shooting people who posed no imminent threat to life with live ammunition.”
In addition to backing the U.N. resolution that was approved on Wednesday, HRW called on “the International Criminal Court to open a formal investigation into the situation in Palestine.”
“Israel’s use of lethal force when there was no imminent threat to life has taken a heavy toll in life and limb,” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director, said in a statement on Wednesday. “The international community needs to rip up the old playbook, where Israel conducts investigations that mainly whitewash the conduct of its troops and the U.S. blocks international accountability with its Security Council veto, and instead impose real costs for such blatant disregard for Palestinian lives.”