News / Middle East

    UN: Israel, Hamas May Be Guilty of War Crimes

    FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay attends a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 2, 2013.
    FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay attends a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 2, 2013.
    Lisa Schlein

    The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, says the targeting of civilian infrastructure or the use of civilian structures for military purposes violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law.  She warns both Israel and Hamas may be guilty of war crimes in breaching these humanitarian principles.  U.N. figures show civilians, including many children and women, account for 74 percent of the more than 1,200 Palestinians who have been killed.  Nearly 60 Israelis have been killed, including two civilians. 

    Civilians are bearing the brunt of the war in Gaza, which is now into its 24th day.  

    Hundreds of civilian structures have been damaged and destroyed in the Palestinian enclave.  The U.N.’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, says homes, hospitals, U.N. schools, and life-sustaining infrastructure, such as the power station, water and sewage services in Gaza are protected under international law.  

    She says attacks against objects which are being used exclusively for humanitarian assistance may amount to a war crime.  She notes 250,000 Palestinians now are sheltering in schools run by UNRWA, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.  She calls the shelling by Israel of these schools and the killing and wounding of civilians sheltering there as unconscionable.  

    She also condemns Hamas’ use of U.N. premises as a repository for weapons, calling this a flagrant violation of the neutrality of U.N. premises.

    “Locating rockets in schools and hospitals or even launching these rockets from densely populated areas are violations of international humanitarian law.  But, it does not absolve the other party, that is Israel, from not itself observing its obligations under international humanitarian law," she said.  

    Three kilometer buffer zone in the Gaza Strip that the Israeli army has designated a no-go zone.Three kilometer buffer zone in the Gaza Strip that the Israeli army has designated a no-go zone.
    x
    Three kilometer buffer zone in the Gaza Strip that the Israeli army has designated a no-go zone.
    Three kilometer buffer zone in the Gaza Strip that the Israeli army has designated a no-go zone.

    Pillay says Israel, as an occupying power, has certain obligations toward Palestinians.  She says Israel must fulfill its obligation to provide people in Gaza with medical care.  It must protect peoples' right to housing, food, and clean water.  

    While she is critical of Israel’s military actions in Gaza, she also finds grave fault with Hamas.  She says she understands Israel’s concerns and its need to protect its people.

    “I have condemned the rocket attacks because they are indiscriminate directed at the civilian population and it is a fact that Israeli children have as much right to life as do Gaza children,” she said. 
     
    Pillay says both parties to the war must respect the cardinal principle related to the conduct of hostilities.  That she says is the principle of distinction, proportionality and precautions.   

    She says she joins the world in condemning the aggression that is taking place in Gaza and particularly the killing of civilians.  She notes both Israel and Hamas present arguments justifying their actions.  But, as far as she is concerned, she says what is going on in Gaza is wrong and will always be wrong.

    • Hajar Muharram, 5, sits in a classroom where the family of seven now live, at a U.N. school, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Thursday, July 31, 2014.
    • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (L) attend a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv July 31, 2014.
    • A woman carries a bag of food supplies that she received from a United Nations food distribution center in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip July 31, 2014.
    • People pray next to the bodies of Palestinians from the al-Silk family during their funeral in Gaza City July 31, 2014.
    • Heygar Jendiyah, left, points to where the family house kitchen once stood, partially destroyed by a previous air strike, as her children Ranin, 10, center, and Helmi, right, listen, in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip,
    • An Israeli soldier stands atop an armored vehicle at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip July 31, 2014.
    • Israeli soldiers carry cases at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip July 31, 2014
    • Israeli tanks at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip July 31, 2014.

     

     

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora