Israel’s Gaza actions could be war crimes, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay says

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli air strikes and ground action in Gaza could be considered war crimes, the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.

Pillay made the assertion on Wednesday at the start of an emergency debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.


Pillay referred to incidents in which Israeli attacks hit houses and hospitals in Gaza, which Israel say are housing rockets, launchers and terrorists, saying: “These are just a few examples where there seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes.” She called for each incident to be investigated.

Pillay also condemned the “indiscriminate nature” of rocket fire from Gaza, which appear to be targeting civilians. She did not refer to them as war crimes.

The special one-day session was convened at the request of the Palestinians, Egypt and Pakistan, according to Reuters.

“Israel will destroy Hamas’s military infrastructure,” said Eviatar Manor, Israel’s ambassador to the human rights council. “However, the Gaza residents are not our enemy. Israel is fully committed to international law,” he also said.

“Israel must be held accountable for its crimes.” Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said.

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