The UN’s top human rights official has warned that Israel may have committed war crimes during its ongoing military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Navi Pillay told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that Israel had not done enough to protect civilians as the casualties continue to mount in the conflict.
Over 650 Palestinians have been killed in the two weeks of Israel’s Operation Defensive Edge, mostly civilians. These include 161 children, 66 women, and 35 elderly people.
“There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes.”
Pillay also condemned Hamas’ “indiscriminate” rocket attacks on Israel, which have claimed the lives of two Israeli civilians since the operation began.
29 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the conflict, and Hamas also claims to have kidnapped Oron Shaul, an Israeli soldier described as missing by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
Israel has previously described the Human Rights Council as biased, and the organisations Goldstone report that said Israel and Hamas committed potential war crimes in the 2009 Gaza conflict was rejected by the Israel and the US for being flawed.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry are both in the region to try and negotiate an end to the fighting so that the underlying causes of the conflict could be addressed.
Earlier, US airlines and a number of European airlines have suspended flights to and from Israel over fears that the planes may be struck by Hamas missiles.