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GENEVA, July 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip can be regarded as war crimes, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in Geneva on Wednesday. She opened a special session of the UN Human Rights Council that focused on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. The high commissioner stressed that the actions of Israel “cause serious concern over the excessive use of force.”
Pillay gave examples of Israel’s bombings that “can be assessed as war crimes.” Among them - the July 21 air strike on Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ hospital in the center of Gaza that killed three people and injured dozens. She also mentioned the bombardments of July 20 and 21 when whole families were killed in their homes.
Pillay urged all the conflict sides to distinguish between civilians and the participants in combat actions, stressing that failure to observe these principles could be assessed as crimes against humanity. She also warned radical Palestinian groups of the inadmissibility of the use of civilian populated areas as sites for firing rockets. More than 2,900 rockets have been fired at Israel.
“Since Israel announced its Operation Protective Edge on 7 July, Gaza has been subjected to daily intensive bombardments from air, land and sea, employing well over 2,100 air strikes alone. The hostilities have resulted in the deaths of more than 600 Palestinians, including at least 147 children and 74 women. This is the third serious escalation of hostilities in my six years as High Commissioner. As we saw during the two previous crises in 2009 and 2012, it is innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip, including children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities, who are suffering the most. According to preliminary UN figures, around 74% of those killed so far were civilians, and thousands more have been injured. Those numbers have climbed dramatically since Israel’s ground operations began on 17 July,” Pillay said.