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Israel must do more to halt abuse of Palestinian rights: U.N.

Foreign activists, members of the international movement "Welcome to Palestine"chant anti-Israel slogans in solidarity with the Palestinians during a protest in front of the Israeli embassy, in Amman, Jordan, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP photo/Mohammad Hannon)

GENEVA: Israel must do more to halt a string of serious violations of Palestinian human rights documented by a 2009 fact-finding mission, according to a U.N. report published Monday.

There is a "need to more earnestly pursue accountability for the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that were documented by the fact-finding mission," Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Speaking on behalf of U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay, she presented a report on progress made in implementing recommendations in the U.N. Goldstone report, which detailed violations of international rights and humanitarian laws in the Palestinian territories in connection with the 2008/09 Gaza conflict.

"It has been nearly three years since this council endorsed the fact-finding mission's recommendations. Yet, not one person has been indicted for any of the incidents documented," she said.

"Respecting human rights and international humanitarian law obligations means that perpetrators of violations are brought to justice," Kang said.

Israel's devastating Operation Cast Lead offensive in Gaza in December 2008/January 2009 claimed the lives of some 1,400 Palestinians -- more than half of them civilians -- and 13 Israelis, including three civilians and 10 soldiers.

The report also highlighted border closures and restrictions on the Gaza Strip, and obstacles to movement in the West Bank, exacerbating an economic crisis in the Palestinian territories.

It also spoke out against the detention of 4,500 Palestinians in Israeli jails but also criticized Palestinian armed groups for firing rockets at Israel.

Israel's representative, who had the opportunity to respond to the report's findings, was absent from the council in what was likely to have been a deliberate show of its disapproval.

Israel severed contacts with the Rights Council in March after the 47-member body announced a separate probe into how Israeli settlements may be infringing on the rights of Palestinians, accusing it of "singling out" Israel.

A representative for the Palestinians hailed the latest report and charged that Israel was "continuing to perpetrate its violations and to perpetrate its systematic occupation".

"This country is flouting all recommendations... from the United Nations," he said, insisting: "International law... must apply in the occupied Palestinian territories."

 

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