The United Nations high commissioner for human rights has voiced deep concern over Israel’s recent aggression on the Gaza Strip which might constitute “war crimes”, she said.
At an emergency meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday, Michelle Bachelet spoke of her deep concern over the spike in violence between Israelis and Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip earlier this month.
The UN human rights chief also said she had seen no evidence that civilian buildings targeted and bombed by Israeli forces were being used for military purposes.
“Despite Israel’s claims that many of these buildings were hosting armed groups or being used for military purposes, we have not seen evidence in this regard,” she said.
“If found to be indiscriminate and disproportionate in their impact on civilians and civilian objects, such attacks may constitute war crimes,” Bachelet said.
“Although Israel undertook a number of precautions, such as advance warning of attacks in some cases, air strikes in such densely populated areas resulted in a high level of civilian fatalities and injuries, as well as the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure.”
Bachelet urged Hamas movement and all other resistance factions in Gaza to refrain from firing indiscriminate rockets and mortars.
“There is no doubt that Israel has the right to defend its citizens and residents… However, Palestinians have rights too. The same rights,” Bachelet told the 47-member council, who was debating a draft resolution to launch a broad, international investigation into violations surrounding the latest aggression, but also of “systematic” abuses in the Palestinian territories and inside the occupied territories.
At least 279 Palestinians were killed, including 69 children and 40 women, and 1,910 others injured in the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
More than 90,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes, and much of Gaza’s infrastructure and many residential buildings were completely destroyed or levelled.
19 families in the Gaza Strip have also been wiped off the population civil registry, including 45 children, after the Israeli bombardment on residential areas.