Geneva: The head of UN rights protection said Thursday that the Israeli army may have committed war crimes in an 11-day war with the militant group Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip. Michelle Bachelet also called on Israel to allow an independent investigation into the latest deadly violent convulsions of military operations.
The remarks came as the U.N.’s top human rights body opened a one-day special session to discuss the “the grave human rights situation” in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Bachelet said Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket fire during the conflict was also a clear violation of the rules of war.
The UN high commissioner for human rights detailed to the Human Rights Council the “most significant escalation of hostilities since 2014” that left devastation and death in the Gaza Strip before a cease-fire last week.
The 11-day war killed at least 248 in Gaza, including 66 children and 39 women. In Israel, 12 people also died, including two children.
“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 said.
“Such attacks may constitute war crimes,” she added, if deemed to be indiscriminate and disproportionate in their impact on civilians. Bachelet urged Israel to ensure accountability, as required under international law in such cases, including through “impartial, independent investigations” of actions in the escalation.
She also mocked Hamas’ tactics, which included placing military assets in densely populated civilian areas and firing rockets at them.
“These rockets are indiscriminate and fail to distinguish between military and civilian objects, and their use, thereby, constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law,” Bachelet said. “However, the actions of one party do not absolve the other from its obligations under international law.”
She warned that unless the “root cause” of the violence is addressed, “it will undoubtedly be a matter of time before the next round of violence begins, which will bring further suffering to civilians on all sides.”
The whole day of debate involved personal statements by Palestinians, such as a statement by a young female journalist in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, which was an early flashpoint of violence and involved 47 members of the Security Council. Speeches by countries and observer countries. .
The Organization of the Islamic Conference has proposed a resolution that, if passed by the Council, it will establish a standing committee to report on human rights violations in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, an unprecedented level of review authorized by the Council.
A vote on the draft resolution may be held at the end of this session, which is basically virtual.
Sometimes with the support of the United States, Israel accused the committee of opposing Israeli prejudices and generally refused to cooperate with its investigators.
The Israeli ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar stated that Hamas-designated by the United States and its allies as a terrorist organization-has fired 4,400 rockets at Israeli civilians from “Palestinian homes, hospitals and schools.” Each of these rockets constitutes a war crime.”
“What would you do if rockets were fired at Dublin, Paris, or Madrid,” she asked.
Riad al-Maliki, the Palestinian foreign minister, sought to highlight years of suffering by Palestinians in the lands controlled or occupied by Israel.
The Israeli war machinery and terrorism of its settlers continue to target our children who face murder, arrest and displacement, deprived of a future in which they can live in peace and security,” he said by video message.