The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted to immediately dispatch a team of international experts to Gaza to determine whether Israel committed war crimes by shooting Palestinian protesters participating in the Great March of Return.
The resolution, which was debated Friday during the Council's 28th special session to discuss international law violations during protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The resolution, which sort to “urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry,” was supported by 29 members. Only the United States and Australia voted against the resolution, 14 nations abstained.
The Great March of Return began on March 30, Palestinian Land Day. Since then, Palestinian have protested every Friday to demand their right to return to the towns and villages they were expelled from during and after the creation of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948.
Israel has denied Palestinian refugees this right due to the perceived threat they pose to the country's Jewish majority.
As civilians installed encampments near the border fence, Israeli snipers were deployed along the border and ordered to shoot at protesters to prevent them from reaching and crossing the border fence.
Since the first Friday protest, when Israeli snipers killed 17 protesters, human rights organizations spoke out against the use of lethal force in a situation that posed no immediate threat to life or serious injury.
Overall, Israeli sniper fire killed at least 100 Palestinians, including paramedics, journalists, and children and wounded over 10,000. At least 3,500 were wounded by live ammunition. On the other side, only one Israeli soldier was injured by a stone.
United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has backed calls for an international probe, accusing Israel of a “wholly disproportionate” response to protesters.
During the Council’s session Michael Lynk, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Palestine said Israel's use of force may amount to "a war crime."
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called on Israel and the U.S. to withdraw from the UNHRC in protest and said via Twitter “Israel is under a double attack... a terror attack from Gaza and an attack of hypocrisy headed by the UNHCR.”
This Friday, Palestinian protesters have continued to protest, although Al Jazeera reports the protest site is calmer than in past weeks.