This content is not available in your region

UN: Israel may be guilty of war crimes in Gaza

UN: Israel may be guilty of war crimes in Gaza
Text size Aa Aa

There is a “strong possibility” that Israel has committed war crimes in the Gaza strip, according to the UN’s top human rights official.

Navi Pillay also condemned Hamas and other Palestinian groups for indiscriminate attacks.

Israeli forces have continued to pound the Palestinian territory, with thousands of civilians reportedly fleeing its ground offensive.

Speaking in Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights rejected Israeli claims that proper precautions were being taken to protect lives, calling for investigations into several attacks which had killed civilians including children.

“These are just a few examples where there seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes,” Navi Pillay said.

Israel rejected the accusations, accusing Hamas of using civilians as human shields.

The UN High Commissioner also gave this warning to all groups involved in the conflict:
“It is imperative that Israel, Hamas and all Palestinian armed groups strictly abide by applicable norms of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. This entails applying the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives; proportionality; and precautions in attack. Respect for the right to life of civilians, including children, should be a foremost consideration. Not abiding by these principles may amount to war crimes, and crimes against humanity,” Navi Pillay said.

On Wednesday afternoon the Red Cross announced a pause in the fighting in several parts of Gaza to allow the wounded to be evacuated.

Earlier Gazan health authorities said 18 Palestinians had died by the middle of the day.

The figures included two dead in an Israeli air strike on Gaza City which wounded dozens.

In southern Israel police said a foreign worker was killed by a rocket.