Photo: AP
HRC convenes to discuss Gaza
Photo: AP

UN rights chief slams possible Israeli 'war crimes' in Gaza

Israel envoy: Human Rights Council debate is 'knee jerk' reaction; EU slams Hamas, call for complete demilitarization in Gaza.

The UN's Human Rights Council (HRC) convened Wednesday afternoon in a special meeting to discuss Israel's Operation Protective Edge and its effects in the Gaza Strip where over 643 Palestinians have been killed according to Palestinian medical sources.



The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, opened the meeting with heavy criticism for the State of Israel saying that it is possibly committing war crimes against the civilian population in Gaza. 


Pillay cited the destruction of homes as a punishment and the killing of Palestinian children as creating the strong possibility that Israel is breaking international law in its military action against Hamas. "Every one of these incidents must be properly and independently investigated," said Pillay.


The special meeting of the Human Rights Council to discuss the situation in Gaza. (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
The special meeting of the Human Rights Council to discuss the situation in Gaza. (Photo: AP)


On the other side of the issue, Pillay also condemned indiscriminate rocket and mortar fire from Gaza into Israeli territory.


The Israeli representative, Evyatar Manor, was equally harsh in his reply to the accusations, calling the UN debate a "knee-jerk" reaction, and firmly stating that Hamas is committing war crimes whereas Israel is simply performing its duty to defend itself.


"Israel will destroy Hamas' military infrastructure," Manor told the debate. "However, the Gaza residents are not our enemy. Israel is fully committed to international law," he added.


Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki responded by urging world powers to end what he called Israel's impunity, adding: "Israel must be held accountable for its crimes." His speech was greeted by loud applause.


Foreign Ministers from the European Union took a slightly different tone on Tuesday when they called for the complete demilitarization of the Gaza Strip in light of continued rocket fire on Israel.


"The European Union calls on all terrorist organizations in Gaza to lay down their weapons." They said in the same announcement that the EU strongly condemns the use of human shields and support Israel's right to defend itself but not the killing of civilians in Gaza.


"The foreign ministers of Europe call on Hamas to put an end to (their) actions and bring an end to the violence." The officials also said that they are, "very worried from the escalation of violence in Gaza and we call for an immediate end to the fighting according to the understandings of Pillar of Defense."


Reuters contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 07.23.14, 13:48
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