12/10/2008, 00.00
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UN accuses Israel of “crimes against humanity” over Gaza siege

The special rapporteur, an American Jew, suggests a special International trial for violations. The UN Human Rights Council sets out 99 proposals to improve human rights in Gaza and the occupied territories.

Geneva (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The UN human rights Council asked Israel yesterday to take concrete steps to remove its blockade of Gaza and free Palestinian prisoners.  The UN special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, described Israeli policies towards the Arab population as closet o “crimes against humanity”.

In a declaration delivered top the Council for Human Rights in Geneva, he said “it would seem mandatory for the International Criminal Court to investigate the situation, and determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law.”.

Falk is a professor of International law and an American Jew.  He suggested that the UN take steps to insure protection for the people of Gaza.

Falk’s declaration was part of wider discussion on the state of human rights within member states of the international organism.

The Israel ambassador in Geneva (UN) responded with the claim that for its part “Israel is committed to reinforcing areas in which we are succeeding and bettering those areas that need improvement”. He added that the dialogue with the Commission was “positive and productive”.

Since Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israel closed down all border crossings, only allowing humanitarian aid enter the territory.  Last month it permitted some trucks carrying food and emergency aid to enter, as well as the provision of fuel for the Strip’s only power plant.

Israel justified its policy noting that Gaza has become a “hotbed for terrorist preparations and a launching pad for repeated missile attacks”.  In the last 4 weeks over 200 rockets and motors have been launched towards Israel from Gaza, targeting in particular the area of Sderot.  Experts point out that the siege is indiscriminately hurting militants and civilians.  There are 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.

The UN Council for human rights, which has 47 members, held 2 days of discussions on Israel.  At the conclusion of talks, 99 measures to improve respect for the human rights of the Palestinian people were presented to the Israeli delegates.  In March Israel will be expected to present a plan of how it aims to put these measures into practise.


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