US Pulls Out of Human Rights Council as Israel Prepares Major Offensive on Gazan, Lebanese Civilian Targets

NEW YORK – In a move that the UN’s human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, called “disappointing, if not really surprising, news,” the United States announced on Tuesday that it would be withdrawing from the international body’s Human Rights Council in protest of what it called the “hypocritical and self-serving” organization’s “unending hostility towards Israel.” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, further asserted that the council “makes a mockery of human rights” and is a “cesspool of political bias,” particularly when it comes to Israel. Israel has long rejected the Human Rights Council and was the first nation to boycott the council’s review of its human rights record since the body’s creation in 2006.

The U.S.’ decision comes after several embarrassing defeats for the U.S. at the UN over the past year relating to the policies of its ally Israel, which has come under fire in recent months for its ongoing offensive against the Gaza Strip and its slaughter of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protesters since late March. The most recent of those defeats took place last Wednesday when the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly condemned Israel’s use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate” force against Palestinian civilians, with 120 nations voting in favor of the resolution and only eight – including the U.S. and Israel – voting against.

A week prior to that defeat, Ambassador Haley had been filmed “begging” members of the UN Security Council to vote in favor of her resolution condemning Palestinians for the violence in Gaza – even though no Israeli citizens have been killed. Haley’s pleas were resoundingly rejected, forcing her to be the only person on the Security Council to vote in favor of the resolution. That “failure” was widely regarded as a major embarrassment for the Trump administration and a rejection of U.S. Israel policy by the international community.

U.S. evacuates ahead of the storm

However, the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Human Rights Council is much more than the sum of a string of stinging defeats for the Trump administration’s several pro-Israel initiatives. Indeed, the move seems to have been motivated out of concern over backlash to Israel’s future actions, not its recent actions, in occupied Palestine.

While Israel’s recent violence against Palestinian protesters has received wide condemnation, MintPress News has reported on several occasions in recent months that the current violence is in preparation for a much larger future offensive that will include the bombing of civilian targets – not just in Gaza, but in Lebanon and potentially Syria as well.

Indeed, another Israeli war in Gaza has been acknowledged as all but inevitable by both the Gazan and Israeli governments. Earlier this year, reports quoted officials of Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, as stating that the chances of a new war with Israel this year stood “at 95 percent.” The high probability of a conflict was also mentioned by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, who stated that another Israeli invasion of Gaza was “likely” to occur this year.

Eizenkot ironically framed the imminent invasion of the Strip by Israel as a way to “prevent a humanitarian collapse” in Gaza, suggesting that military action against Gazan civilians and infrastructure would somehow improve the daily lives of the Strip’s inhabitants. The UN had previously warned that the “collapse” of the Gaza Strip is set to occur within a year and a half if Israel’s illegal blockade of the enclave is not lifted.

In this Nov. 17, 2012 file photo, smoke rises during an explosion from an Israeli strike in Gaza City. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with nearly 200 airstrikes widening a blistering assault on Gaza rocket operations by militants to include the prime minister’s headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa, File)

Following Eizenkot’s statements of a coming Israeli war on Gaza earlier this year, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked warned last month that the only way for there to be peace in Gaza was for Israel to “conquer Gaza and destroy it once and for all.” Gaza is home to around 1.8 million people, most of whom live within Gaza city – one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world. Half of its population is under the age of 18. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ominously stated in April that every single person living the Strip was a potential military target.

Evidence that Israel’s offensive against Gaza is set to deepen notably came just hours after the U.S. officially pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council. Just before dawn on Wednesday, Israel bombed an estimated 21 locations throughout the Strip. Earlier this week, Israel had bombed several locations in the densely populated Strip, claiming to be targeting “kite factories.”

Israel’s expansive plans

Israel’s upcoming offensive against Gaza is unlikely to be the only military confrontation in which the Jewish ethno-state will intentionally target civilians. Indeed, as MintPress reported in March, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned after meeting with Israeli government officials that Israel was actively preparing for war with Lebanon, telling reporters that “Southern Lebanon is where the next war is coming.”

Graham also told reporters that the Israeli government was requesting “ammunition, ammunition, ammunition” from the U.S. government in preparation for the initiative, as well as diplomatic support for when Israel strikes civilian targets — such as “civilian apartment buildings, hospitals, and schools” – because Hezbollah has allegedly become “integrated” into these structures. Given that recent request, it seems that the U.S.’ withdrawal from the Human Rights Council was part of the Trump administration’s preparation to offer such “diplomatic support” for a coming Israeli offensive against Lebanese civilians, by seeking to delegitimize and condemn the council through the U.S. absence.

In addition to offensives targeting civilians in Gaza and Lebanon, it has long been speculated that Israel will also target Syria militarily in a last-ditch attempt to push for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syrian regime change is a long-standing geopolitical goal of Israel, integral to Israel’s bid to consolidate and expand its control over Syria’s Golan Heights region with U.S. support. Indeed, Israel is alleged to have struck the Syrian military in eastern Syria this past Sunday – an indication that its involvement in the conflict is set to deepen.

Lebanese look at the remains of a bridge that was distroyed by the Israeli airforce during the Hezbollah Israeli war in summer 2006. (Photo Norbert Schiller/MintPress)

Lebanese look at the remains of a bridge that was destroyed by the Israeli air force during the Hezbollah Israeli war in summer 2006. (Photo Norbert Schiller/MintPress)

A future Israeli offensive is likely to target both Lebanon and Syria because, for years, Israel has supported Syrian opposition forces with the hopes of not only toppling the Syrian government but also weakening Lebanese resistance group and political party Hezbollah.

Having failed to weaken Hezbollah through a proxy conflict in Syria, Israel is now making a desperate bid to do so by funding seven different rebel factions in southern Syria while also threatening the civilian population in southern Lebanon. Not wanting to be outmatched by its resilient and resourceful enemy again, the threat of war that Israeli officials are making appears to be a plan to go straight at the source — Hezbollah’s civilian supporters, as well as its allies in Syria — in a bid to counter regional resistance to its ambitions to expand.

Thus, given that coming Israeli military offensives against Gaza and its northern neighbors are both well-documented and widely anticipated, the U.S. decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council in Israel’s name is a likely indication of its rejection of coming condemnations of future Israeli war crimes.

Top Photo | A general view of the assembly hall during the opening of the Human Rights Council’s Commemorative session marking the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday Dec. 12, 2008. (AP/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

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