An independent commission of inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council after last year’s Gaza conflict said Israel must do more than end the occupation of land Palestinians want for a state, according to a report released on Tuesday.
Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs called the report “a waste of money and effort” that amounted to a witch-hunt. Israel boycotted the inquiry, accusing it of bias and barred entry to its investigators.
While prompted by the 11-day May 2021 conflict in which 250 Gaza Palestinians and 13 people in Israel died, the inquiry mandate includes alleged human rights abuses before and after that and seeks to investigate the “root causes” of the tensions.
It cites evidence saying Israel has “no intention of ending the occupation” and is pursuing “complete control” over what it calls the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which was taken by Israel in 1967.
“Ending the occupation alone will not be sufficient,” the report says, urging additional action to ensure the equal enjoyment of human rights.
Citing an Israeli law denying naturalisation to Palestinians married to Israelis, the report accuses the country of affording “different civil status, rights and legal protection” for Arab minorities. Israel says such measures safeguard national security and the country’s Jewish character.
The Israel ministry added: “It is a biased and one-sided report tainted with hatred for the state of Israel and based on a long series of previous one-sided and biased reports.” Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but, with the help of Egypt, clamps down on the borders of the enclave now governed by Hamas. Palestinian authorities have limited self-rule in the West Bank, which is dotted with Israeli settlements.
Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, opened the May 2021 war with rocket attacks following moves to evict Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the Al Aqsa Mosque.