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UN rights boss doubts legality of Israel's Gaza offensive

Reuters , Friday 11 Jul 2014
Pillay
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (Photo:Reuters)
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The United Nations human rights chief on Friday voiced serious doubts that Israeli's military operation against Gaza complied with international law banning the targeting of civilians, and called on both sides to step back from the brink.

International law requires Israel to take all measures to ensure that its attacks are proportional, distinguish between military and civilian objects, and avoid civilian casualties, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.

"We have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes. Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law," Pillay said in a statement.

Israeli air strikes on densely populated Gaza killed four more Palestinians before dawn on Friday, raising the death toll from the four-day offensive to at least 85, while a Palestinian rocket hit a fuel tanker at an Israeli petrol station causing a huge blaze.

Pillay also called on Palestinian armed groups to uphold international law, noting that military assets should not be located in densely-populated areas, nor should attacks be launched from those areas.

Targeting civilian homes violates international humanitarian law unless the homes are being used for military purposes, said Pillay, a former UN war crimes judge.

"In case of doubt, buildings ordinarily used for civilian purposes, such as homes, are presumed not to be legitimate military targets. Even where a home is identified as being used for military purposes, any attack must be proportionate, offer a definite military advantage in the prevailing circumstances at the time, and precautions must be taken," she said.

Her spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani, speaking at a news briefing in Geneva, said: "So if there is even an iota of doubt, these are not legitimate military targets."

"Israel, Hamas, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have been down this road before, and it has led only to death, destruction, distrust and a painful prolongation of the conflict," Pillay said.

"This time around, once again, civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict."

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Sami
13-07-2014 07:46pm
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And what about the legality of Hamas firing rockets? that's OK??
Oh really? And what about the legality of Hamas firing thousands of rockets? That's OK for her.
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Again ?
11-07-2014 10:09pm
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Where does this nonsense come from ????
I fire missiles at your civilians. You can only strike back in proportion to the damage I have done to you. So you can only hit me hard to stop to the extent that I hit you hard and hurt you hard in the first place. If your civilians live in fear all the time because of the rockets I routinely fire, but I do not hit anyone, you cannot hit me back. If you terrorise my citizens in the same way, that's " collective punishment ". you are guilty of a war crime The hyporcritical standards to which Israel is held are laughable. That's why when the time comes it snaps, it will snap
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JENN
11-07-2014 06:07pm
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never ends
And just like all the other decades of bloodshed and illegal use of force Isreal has committed, the UN will do nothing to help. Because there is nothing the United States needs from Palestine, our country won't help. But they will keep supporting Isreal because they have too much of a foothold here in the US. Isreal preaches the genocide committed by the Nazis in World War II but what about what they are doing to the Palestinians?
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Sami
13-07-2014 07:48pm
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To compare Israel to Nazi Germany shows Ignorance
To compare Israel to Nazi Germany shows ignorance and is a blood libel.
barry
11-07-2014 10:12pm
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Colorado smoke has been inhaled
I thought hamas fired dozens or rockets into Israel at israeli citizens before there was retaliation. If more Israelis dies because their gov't did not protect them with shelters and ABM systems, would it then be okay to strike back ?
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