UN rights chief urges probe into Gaza killings


The top UN human rights official, reacting to the recent violence between Israel and the Palestinians,has called for an investigation into the reported killing of dozens of civilians, including children, in Gaza by Israeli military.

While recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour condemned the Israeli Defence Force’s “disproportionate use of force,” in a statement issued today in Geneva, which was also distributed at UN Headquarters in New York.

“Israel, as the occupying power, bears a particular responsibility under international human rights and humanitarian law to protect the civilian population and civilian installations in Gaza,” the statement added.

She called on the Israeli Government “to conduct impartial investigations into the killings of civilians, make the findings public and hold any perpetrators accountable.”

Ms. Arbour also strongly condemned the rocket attacks by Palestinian militants against Israeli civilian targets, stressing that they are in clear violation of international humanitarian law and “those responsible must be held to account.”

The UN estimates that at least 59 Palestinians ­ including 39 civilians ­ were killed last Saturday in Gaza and hundreds more injured. In addition, two Israeli soldiers are reported to have been killed in the fighting and an Israeli civilian was killed in Sderot following a rocket attack and at least five other civilians were injured in Ashkelon.

Both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council which met in emergency session over the weekend have condemned the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel.