Israel is 'root cause' of violence in the conflict with Palestinians: UN report

AP , AFP , Tuesday 7 Jun 2022

UN investigators on Tuesday blamed Israel's continued occupation and discrimination against Palestinians for the endless cycles of violence in the decades-long conflict, prompting angry Israeli protests.

Gaza strip, occupied Palestine
File Photo: A Palestinian prays at dusk next to the rubble of his family home, destroyed by an airstrike during an 11-day war between Hamas and Israel, in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, June 4, 2021. Investigators commissioned by the U.N. AP


A high-level team of investigators, appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to probe "all underlying root causes" in the drawn-out Israel-Palestinian conflict, pointed the finger squarely at Israel.

"Ending the occupation of lands by Israel... remains essential in ending the persistent cycles of violence," the report said.

The 18-page report mainly focuses on evaluating a long line of past UN investigations, reports and rulings on the situation and how and if those findings were implemented.

"The findings and recommendations relevant to the underlying root causes were overwhelmingly directed towards Israel, which we have taken as an indicator of the asymmetrical nature of the conflict and the reality of one state occupying the other," lead investigator Navi Pillay, a former UN rights chief from South Africa, said in a statement.

"We also found that these recommendations have overwhelmingly not been implemented, including calls to ensure accountability for Israel's violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and the indiscriminate firing of rockets ... by Palestinian armed groups into Israel," she said.

"It is this lack of implementation coupled with a sense of impunity, clear evidence that Israel has no intention of ending the occupation, and the persistent discrimination against Palestinians that lies at the heart of the systematic recurrence of violations in both the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel."

Israel has refused to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry (COI) created last year following the 11-day Hamas-Israel war in May 2021, which killed 260 Palestinians and 13 people on the Israeli side.

The COI, which is the highest-level investigation that can be ordered by the UN Human Rights Council, was tasked with looking beyond that surge in violence and investigating all violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.


While the council had previously ordered eight investigations into rights violations in the Palestinian territories, this was the first open-ended probe and the first to examine "root causes" in the drawn-out conflict.

It was also the first tasked with looking at systematic abuses committed within Israel.

Israel has slammed the creation of the investigation, and has also loudly criticised Pillay for "championing an anti-Israel agenda".

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat told reporters in February that "the fact that she was appointed to this commission is actually a disgrace".

And on Tuesday, even before the report was published, dozens of Israeli reserve soldiers and students -- some of them dressed like Palestinian Hamas militants -- marched outside the UN building in Geneva in protest.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who heads the Israeli NGO Shurat Hadin that organised the protest, decried "a witch-hunt against Israel".

And she slammed the Human Rights Council, which will kick off its 50th session next week where the report will be presented, as "the most anti-semitic body in the world."

Short link: