Serious human rights violations taking place in GazaListen /
Condemning Israel for not taking "all necessary precautions to protect civilian lives” in Gaza, the UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay says there is a "strong possibility that international humanitarian law had been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes."
Addressing the UN Human Rights Council at the start of a special session to discuss the situation in Gaza, Ms Pillay said over 70 percent of those killed in Gaza since the start of the latest Israeli military operation were civilians.
She said the lack of distinction between civilians and combatants had resulted in the death of several Palestinian children.
The High Commissioner said the indiscriminate firing by Hamas and other armed groups of more than 2,900 rockets into Israel was equally unacceptable noting that Israeli civilians, also have a right to live without fear.
More than 600 Palestinians, including at least 147 children and 74 women have so far been killed, while two Israeli civilians have been killed by rockets and other projectiles fired from Gaza.
"The disregard for international humanitarian law and for the right to life, was shockingly evident for all to see in the apparent targeting on 16 July of seven children playing on a Gaza beach. Four of them, – aged between 9 and 11, from the same Bakr family – were killed. These children were clearly civilians taking no part in hostilities. I unequivocally reiterate to all actors in this conflict that civilians must not be targeted. 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. 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."
The High Commissioner said all violations of international law must be properly and independently investigated.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.