— HRC SECRETARIAT (@UN_HRC) July 23, 2014
American exceptionalism strikes again. This time it manifested itself as the US being the only country on the United Nations Human Rights Council to vote against investigating the killing of civilians in Operation Protective Edge. The call to respect international legal restrictions on warfare and investigate whether any violations have taken place received a yea or abstention from every other country on the council. The resolution was presented by Ibrahim Khraishi, the ambassador of the Palestinian observer mission to the UN in Geneva.
The result of the resolution – which passed despite the US’ no vote – will be a UN probe into how Israel is using force in Gaza, particularly against civilians. Of the 732 Palestinians now reported killed from Operation Protective Edge an estimated 80% have been civilians. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the council yesterday that Israel’s actions could be war crimes.
The 47-member council adopted the investigation under a draft resolution after a request by Palestine, which has UN observer status: 29 states voted in favour of the investigation. 17 abstained, including many EU states. 1 voted against – the US.
The Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement that the decision was a “travesty”, adding that Israel had “gone to unprecedented lengths to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way”.
If the current bloodbath is a result of unprecedented attempts to avoid civilian casualties what would less restrained warfare be – a nuclear strike?
Israel is likely referring to the fact that the IDF texts Palestinians before it bombs their house or the area of Gaza they live in. Unfortunately, there is no real refuge for those warned because there is nowhere to evacuate to as Israel is also striking hospitals and other theoretical safe zones.
Even if the inquiry leads to findings that Israel has committed war crimes the consequences will be minimal. Any attempt to impose sanctions on Israel will be swiftly vetoed by, you guessed it, the United States of America. Because indispensable moral leadership means never holding your political allies accountable for anything.