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In Geneva, UN panel holds hearings on Israeli rights violations in Palestinian territories

A three-member rights panel at the United Nations has opened a series of public hearings on Israeli human rights violations committed across the occupied Palestinian territories.

The five-day trials were initiated by the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the Swiss city of Geneva on Monday.

The focus of the public hearings was reportedly on the closure orders of a number of Palestinian organizations by Israel in August and the brutal assassination of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by the occupying regime in May.

Rolando Gomez, the UN Human Rights Council spokesman, said at a news briefing with reporters that the hearings were being held to clarify contentious issues, with both Israeli and Palestinian witnesses being allowed to testify.

Stressing that Israel had not cooperated with the commission’s work, Gomez said members of the Israeli cabinet refused to participate in the investigation after they dismissed the trials on the regime’s rights violations as “sham” and “biased.”

“This current commission of inquiry is unique in that it is looking into human rights abuse and violations, alleged human rights abuse and violations in both the occupied Palestinian territory and in Israel. … And they are, of course, impartial, independent investigators. So, any allegations of bias are absolutely false. They are independent and impartial and will be looking at both sides,” he said.

He said that the commission of inquiry has reached called on Israel for its comments, cooperation and access, but noted “they have not responded.”

Israeli forces killed Palestinian reporter Shireen Abu Akleh ‘intentionally’: Probe

Gomez underlined that information is collected from victims and witnesses privately, and that public testimony mitigates speculation and misinformation regarding the work of the commission.

The commission was established by the UN Human Rights Council after the 11-day Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip in May last year, during which 250 Gazans, including women and children, lost their lives.

Abu Akleh was shot in the head and killed by the Israeli army forces on May 11 while she was covering their raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. At the time of her killing, the 51-year-old journalist was wearing easily-recognizable press attire. Multiple investigations by independent organizations and media outlets have already concluded that Abu Akleh was deliberately shot by Israeli forces.

In September, the Israeli military admitted that there was a “high possibility” Abu Akleh was killed by its troops, but concluded that it was an accident and said it will open no criminal investigation into the brutal killing.

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