Israel‘s air campaign in Gaza may violate international laws prohibiting the targeting of civilians, the UN’s top human rights official has said as the death toll of Palestinians rose to more than 100.
As international pressure continued to build on Israel to end its four-day conflict with Hamas and Palestinian militant groups in the enclave, Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said the Israeli military must abide by international law.
“We have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes,” Pillay said. “Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”
A Gaza health ministry spokesman said two Palestinians had been killed and three injured in an Israeli air strike on Friday that brought the death toll to 100.
Rocket fire continued at Israeli cities, which have so far avoided deaths, and Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, said on Friday it intended to hit Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion international airport, warning airlines not to fly to it.
A rocket also caused the first serious Israeli casualty – one of eight people hurt when a fuel tanker was hit at a service station in Ashdod, 20 miles north of Gaza.
Israeli PM vows there will be more air strikes on Gaza
Netanyahu shrugs off foreign criticism after top UN human rights official warns that air strikes could violate international law.
The UN’s top human rights official has called for an investigation into Israeli air strikes on Gaza, on the grounds that the targeting of Palestinian homes – resulting in a high death toll among civilians, particularly children – could violate international law.
The warning from Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, came on the fourth day of Israel‘s bombing of the Gaza Strip and a rocket barrage of Israel by Islamic militants.
However, the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said his government would not be deflected by criticism from abroad, refusing to rule out a ground offensive and vowing there would be more air strikes. So far more than 100 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians, including at least 23 children. More than 670 have been injured. There have as yet been no Israeli fatalities.
Pillay said her office had received “deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes” in Gaza. “Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”
Pillay added that the “indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza” could also constitute a breach.
“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,” she said.
Netanyahu shrugged off foreign criticism and said the Israeli bombing would continue unabated. “No international pressure will prevent us from acting with all power,” he said, claiming to have had “good conversations” with several world leaders in recent days, including Barack Obama and European heads of government.