Israel's Gaza strikes may amount to 'war crimes': UN rights head
Israel's airstrikes during the most recent Gaza conflict may constitute war crimes, the head of the U.N. Human Rights Council said at a special session on May 27.
"Appalling events in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territory have once again called this council into Special Session. We have recently witnessed the most significant escalation in hostilities since 2014," Michelle Bachelet said at the session on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
Though Israel gave several advance warnings when it conducted airstrikes on the blockaded enclave, if found to be "indiscriminate and disproportionate in their impact on civilians and civilian objects, such attacks may constitute war crimes," Bachelet underlined.
She said the latest escalation was directly linked to protests and a heavy response from Israeli security forces first in East Jerusalem, then spreading to the entire occupied Palestinian territory and also within Israel.
Bachelet cited figures verified by her office that 242 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli Security Forces in strikes on Gaza, including 63 children.
"Thousands of others have been injured while it is estimated that over 74,000 Palestinians have been displaced," she added.
In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, 28 Palestinians, including five children, were killed as of May 24.
"At the same time, rockets launched by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups killed 10 Israeli citizens and residents including two children, and forced thousands into shelters," said Bachelet.
Though Israel took several precautions, such as advance warning of attacks in some cases, air strikes in such densely populated areas resulted in high civilian death and injuries, as well as widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure.
"Such strikes raise serious concerns of Israel's compliance with the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law," said Bachelet.