UN rights chief says Israel’s attacks on Gaza may constitute 'war crimes'

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New York (Web Desk): UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Thursday that Israel’s recent barrage of deadly air strikes on Gaza might be war crimes, adding that she had seen no evidence the attacked buildings were used for military purposes.

Addressing a special session, Michelle Bachelet voiced deep concern about the surge in deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians earlier this month.

“Although Israel undertook a number of precautions, such as advance warning of attacks in some cases, 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,” the UN human rights chief said.

“If found to be indiscriminate and disproportionate in their impact on civilians and civilian objects, such attacks may constitute war crimes.”

Bachelet called on “Hamas and all armed groups to refrain from use of indiscriminate rockets and mortars, for which there must be accountability”.

“There is no doubt that Israel has the right to defend its citizens and residents,” she said. “However, Palestinians have rights too. The same rights.” The UN rights chief highlighted the scale of the destruction in Gaza.

Before a truce took hold last Friday, Israeli air strikes and artillery fire on Gaza killed 253 Palestinians, including 66 children, and wounded more than 1,900 people in 11 days of violence, the health ministry in Gaza says.