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BRICS countries vote for Gaza ‘war crimes’ probe
July 23, 2014, 10:36 pm

More than 690 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed since Tel Aviv launched attacks on the Gaza Strip [Xinhua]

More than 690 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed since Tel Aviv launched attacks on the Gaza Strip [Xinhua]

Members of the BRICS bloc voted in Geneva on Wednesday in favor of a Palestinian draft submitted to an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate alleged war crimes committed during Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were among 29 countries in the 46-nation Council which voted for the resolution titled “Ensuring Respect for International Law in The Occupied Palestinian Territories including East Jerusalem”.

The US voted against the resolution while 17 other mostly European members abstained.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that Israel’s attacks which have killed more than 690 people, including many women and children, in recent weeks could be considered war crimes.

“There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes,” Pillay said of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Pillay also strongly condemned the firing of homemade rockets indiscriminately into Israel, adding 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.

But the office of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the Council’s decision saying that it should be Hamas that is investigated for allegedly using Palestinian civilians as human shields.

“The decision today by the HRC is a travesty and should be rejected by decent people everywhere,” Netanyahu’s office said in the first official Israeli response.

The Prime Minister’s office also said that the Israeli military had taken unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties by taking measures such as dropping leaflets and warning via phone and text messaging of an impending attack.

But international criticism of Israel’s military campaign has been steadily growing as the death toll increases.

Non-permanent members Argentina and Chile told the Security Council on Wednesday that they strongly condemned what Buenos Aires’ ambassador called Israel’s indiscriminate abuse of militarism.

On Wednesday, the death toll reached 690 Palestinians and 35 Israelis.

Palestinian medical sources said that more than 4,250 people have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since July 8.

Source: Agencies