UN Human rights chief alarmed at mounting civilian toll in Gaza

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Navi Pillay. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay has expressed alarm at the Israeli military operations resulting in the killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

So far, 88 Palestinians including at least 21 children and 11 women have been killed since the start of Israel's latest military operation "Protective Edge" on Tuesday night.

While noting that the indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel is equally unacceptable, Ms Pillay called on both sides to abide by their obligations under international law not to deliberately attack civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The High Commissioner said military assets should not be located in densely populated areas and neither should military attacks be launched from such locations.

Ravina Shamdasani is the spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva.

"The High Commissioner warns Israel, Hamas, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza that they have been down this road before, and it has led only to death, destruction, distrust and a painful prolongation of the conflict. This time around, once again, civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict. For its part, the Government of Israel must take all possible measures to ensure full respect for the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack, during the conduct of hostilities, as required by international humanitarian law. In all circumstances, they must avoid targeting civilians. However, we have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes. Such reports raise doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law."

The High Commissioner reiterated the UN Secretary-General's call for a cease-fire, but added that every alleged breach of international law must be promptly, independently, thoroughly and effectively investigated, with a view to ensuring justice and reparations for the victims.

Patrick Maigua, United nations Geneva.

Duration 2:05″

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