UN hearings into alleged violations of Israeli rights open in Geneva

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A series of public hearings opened on Monday at the United Nations in Geneva with victims of alleged Israeli human rights violations, with Israel dismissing them as “mock trials”. Reuters reports.

TBEN Commission of Inquiry set up last year by the UN’s top human rights body is planning five days of hearings it says will be impartial and investigate the allegations made by both the Israelis and Palestinian authorities.

However, Israel said the hearings had been called with little notice and pointed to an “anti-Israel” agenda.

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“This (COI) and the convening of these mock trials shame and undermine the Human Rights Council,” it said in a statement from its diplomatic mission in Geneva.

A UN human rights agency has previously dismissed allegations of bias and said Israel had not cooperated with the Commission’s work.

The focus of the first set of hearings will be on Israel’s closure orders of a number of Palestinian organizations in August and the assassination of Palestinian-American reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in May.

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The UN rights agency has said its findings suggest she was killed by Israeli forces, while an Israeli investigation has concluded that she was likely shot unintentionally by an Israeli soldier.

On the first day, three representatives of closed Palestinian non-governmental organizations will testify.

Neither the hearings nor the UN Human Rights Council have legal powers. But investigations launched by the Council are sometimes used as evidence in national or international courts.

In addition to Israel, its ally the United States has criticized the UN Human Rights Council for what it has described as a “chronic bias” against Israel. It left the body on this in 2018 and didn’t come back in full until this year.

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The three-member COI was established after the 11-day conflict in May 2021, which killed 250 Palestinians from Gaza and 13 people in Israel. The investigative mandate includes alleged human rights violations before and after, and seeks to investigate the root causes of the tensions.

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