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  • Paramedics evacuate a wounded man in Gaza.

    Paramedics evacuate a wounded man in Gaza. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 May 2018

A total of 90 countries voted to approve the delegation, nine voted against. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) voted to send a delegation of experts to the occupied Palestinian territory to assess the health situation in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The WHO is one of many international bodies that have recognized the need for on-the-ground investigations after Israel's deadly response to the Great March of Return, in which Palestinians demanded their right as refugees to return to their homeland.

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Gaza: UN Votes to Launch War Crimes Investigation Into Israel

During the WHO’s 71st World Health Assembly Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland, 90 member states voted in favor of Palestine resolution requesting that the next Director General’s report on health conditions is based on the findings of a team of WHO experts that will visit the occupied territories.

Only six countries -United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Guatemala- opposed the resolution.  

The U.S. and Israel have also opposed resolutions presented to the United National Security Council to launch an investigation into Israel’s use of lethal force against Palestinian protesters in Gaza that has led to over 100 deaths and over 10,000 injured.  

Despite the attempts to block inquiries into Israel’s potential crimes in April and May, Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), warned that “violence against civilians – in a situation such as the one prevailing in Gaza” could constitute war crimes and announced her office would conduct a preliminary examination into the situation in Gaza.

On May 22, Palestine called on the ICC to launch an investigation.

Alex Whiting, a former ICC official, said that a state referral could help push things forward as it would make it "much harder" for the Office of the Prosecutor "to stay in the preliminary examination phase for years."  

Earlier this month the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to 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.

During the over 5-week long protests in Gaza there were many reports of Israeli snipers targeting health workers who were assisting the wounded. Furthermore, the high number of serious injuries shed light on the acute health crisis Gaza is facing due to the 11-year-old illegal blockade imposed by Israel.

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