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UN launches probe into Gaza deaths amid Israel’s anger

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) –┬áIsrael criticized the UN Human Rights Council on Friday after voting to open an investigation into the deaths of protesters in Gaza over the past few days and accused Israel of using excessive force.

The United States and Australia rejected the decision to send a commission of inquiry, while 29 of the 47 council members supported it while 14 abstained, including Britain, Germany and Japan.

Israeli Ambassador Aviva Raz Sheikter criticized the council and accused him of “spreading lies against Israel” through “ridiculous statements over five hours.”

“With this decision, this council has reached a new peak of hypocrisy and the lowest standards of credibility.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it rejected the decision in its entirety and added that the council’s goal was “not to seek the truth but to undermine Israel’s right to defend itself and to demonize the Jewish state.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki welcomed the UN resolution.

“The formation of the Human Rights Council by the International Commission of Inquiry is a step towards redress for the Palestinian people,” Maliki said in a statement.

He called for the speedy implementation of this resolution in order to “stop the Israeli war crimes”.

The special session of the Human Rights Council was called after the heaviest day Palestinians have seen in years when 60 people were killed by Israeli troops on Monday during protests Israel said included attempts to breach its border fence.

“No one has become safer because of the horrific events of last week,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid bin Raad al-Hussein told the council.

Israeli forces have reportedly killed 106 Palestinians, including 15 children, since March 30. More than 12,000 people were wounded, including at least 3,500 with live ammunition. Israel was an occupying power under international law and obliged to protect and care for the people of Gaza.

“But they are in fact locked up in poisonous slums from birth to death, deprived of dignity. The Israeli authorities strip them of humanity to such an extent that officials do not think these men and women have the right and all the reasons to protest.”

Israel says the dead were killed in demonstrations organized by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which controls the Gaza Strip and has deliberately incited violence. Hamas denies the charge.

Israel and the United States complain that the 47-nation Human Rights Council, which is chosen by the United Nations General Assembly, is permanently biased against Israel because of the disproportionate number of anti-Israel countries in the United Nations.

The United States stood in line with Israel during the violence last week, which coincided with the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem. US Charge d’affaires Theodore Allegra said the council was ignoring the real culprit, Hamas.

“The unilateral action proposed by the Council today only shows that the Human Rights Council is a cracked body,” he said.

Two million people, mostly refugees, who fled their homes when Israel was founded in 1948, live in the Gaza Strip.