- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2006

GENEVA — The U.N. Human Rights Council yesterday condemned Israel for “massive bombardment of Lebanese civilian populations” and other “systematic” human rights violations, and decided to send a commission to investigate.

European countries, Japan and Canada voted against the resolution, primarily because it lacked balance in failing to name the Hezbollah militia.

The United States, which is an observer, has no vote on the 47-member council.

Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Levanon said the discussions were one-sided, referring only to civilian losses in Lebanon while ignoring the deadly Hezbollah missile attacks on northern Israel.

“It is painful and regrettable that the council made a distinction between the sufferings, the blood and the deaths, and this failure will forever be written in the annals of that body,” he said.

The council voted 27-11 to pass the resolution, which was proposed by the 57-country Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Among those voting for the resolution were China, Russia, India, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, Zambia and South Africa. Guatemala and seven other countries abstained.

Although the OIC refused to insert “Hezbollah” in the text, it amended its wording to make an indirect reference to the Lebanese militia, urging “all concerned parties to respect the rules of international humanitarian law [and] to refrain from violence against the civilian population.”

Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, told the council it was obligated to consider violations by both sides.

“Israeli attacks affecting civilians continue unabated,” she said. “Also unrelenting is Hezbollah’s indiscriminate shelling of densely populated centers in northern Israel which has brought death and destruction.

“There have also been repeated allegations of Hezbollah’s systematic use of civilians as human shields,” she said.

It was the second time the new council has singled out Israel in emergency sessions this summer.

In a meeting July 6, the body voted 29-11 to deplore Israel’s military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It has no powers to punish countries beyond public condemnation.

The resolution said an inquiry commission should go immediately “to investigate the systematic targeting and killings of civilians by Israel in Lebanon; to examine the types of weapons used by Israel and their conformity with the international law; to assess the extent and deadly impact of Israeli attacks on human life, property, critical infrastructure and the environment.”

The OIC, which gathered enough signatures to require yesterday’s meeting in Geneva, kept its focus only on Israel.

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