Qatar has accused Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity during its three-week onslaught in Gaza and demanded that perpetrators be brought to justice at an international tribunal.
Addressing the UN Security Council in New York, Qatari envoy Nassir Abdulaziz Al Nasser said Israel had used powerful incendiary bombs against densely-packed communities across Gaza during the December-January conflict.
“The Israeli aggression on Gaza has been marked by many war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Al Nasser told delegates in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday. Doha’s envoy outlined “the use of forbidden chemical weapons, such as white phosphorus, and the targeting of densely-populated buildings, and even houses of worship, hospitals and schools”. Al Nasser’s comments come in the wake of a string of allegations of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, including this week’s damning report by Human Rights Watch and UN probes delivered at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Allegations include Israeli soldiers shooting Palestinian children, bulldozing a home with a woman and child inside and shelling a building they had ordered civilians into a day earlier, during its war on Hamas that left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead. Arab diplomats have assessed whether Security Council members would vote to refer such allegations to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague or establish a bespoke tribunal for Gaza.
“We must investigate these violations and bring the perpetrators to justice, in order to achieve justice for the victims and prevent the perpetration of such criminal acts in the future,” said Al Nasser.
But analysts predict Israel’s supporters on the 15-nation body, notably the United States, would veto any attempt to prosecute Israeli soldiers on what they would regard as a biased judicial organ. Israel defends itself, describing the use of white phosphorus as “legal” and its army as the world’s “most moral”, while pressing ahead with its own investigations and prosecuting soldiers who broke the rules.
“The true targets of Israeli actions were Hamas terrorists, not the citizens of Gaza,” Israel’s UN envoy, Gabriela Shalev, said of the war that ended on January 18. “Ordinary Gazans were used as human shields by these terrorists, who deliberately staged attacks from, and hid, in heavily populated civilian areas.”
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