UN rights council to debate Gaza flotilla incident

A pro-Palestinian protester offers a prayer during a protest against Israel's naval commando raid on a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the Gaza Strip, outside the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. Photo: AP.  

The United Nations Human Rights Council, in a special meeting on Tuesday, will focus on the Israeli raid of a flotilla of activists with humanitarian aid bound for the Gaza Strip which left at least nine people dead on Monday.

In what diplomats said would be an “urgent debate,” the 47—member council will consider a draft resolution, put forward by the Palestinians and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which condemns the “outrageous attack” by Israel on the flotilla.

Also, the draft calls for an “independent international fact— finding mission” to investigate the incident, while demanding that Israel release any activists currently in detention.

The last fact—finding mission sent by the council to the Middle East, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, was rejected by Israel, which said the team was biased against the Jewish state.

In the lead—up to the rights council debate, UN humanitarian agencies in Geneva spoke about a worsening situation in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza hospitals struggling without equipment

Paul Garwood, the World Health Organization spokesman for emergencies, said Gaza’s hospitals were struggling without equipment and Israel was not allowing other supplies into the enclave.

It was “impossible to maintain a safe and effective health care system under the siege,” Mr. Garwood told reporters, adding that “chronic malnutrition” was on the rise.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said it was not able to bring in cement for housing projects. Deliveries of shoes and clothes were also being blocked.

The UN’s humanitarian chief, John Holmes, said in a statement that the blockade “has been unacceptable, unnecessary and counterproductive” and “has helped only the extremists.” Israel says it allows aid agencies to bring in basic supplies and rejects allegations that there is a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier in New York, the UN Security Council called for an impartial inquiry into the Israeli commando raid and also said the Israel should release the ships and all the civilians currently held.

The UN’s top body said Israel should allow the aid that was on board the intercepted flotilla to be sent to the coastal enclave, currently under a blockade. According to the Security Council, the situation in Gaza is “not sustainable.”

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 2:28:07 PM |

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