UN chief says killing of Palestinian children ‘unconscionable’

Nineteen children were killed in the occupied Palestinian territories last week, the UN human rights chief said.

Nearly 40 Palestinian children have been killed so far this year in the occupied territories, and in many cases, Israeli forces appear to have used lethal force in a way that violates international human rights law, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

The UN rights chief issued a statement on Thursday expressing “alarm” at the high number of Palestinians – especially children – killed and injured by Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territories so far this year.

“The injury of any child in the midst of conflict is extremely tragic, and the killing and maiming of so many children this year is illegal,” Bachelet said in a statement.

Nineteen Palestinian children were killed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories last week, bringing the number of child deaths since the beginning of this year to 37, the statement said.

Seventeen children were killed in Israeli military strikes on Gaza last weekend, and two more children were killed on Tuesday in Israeli operations in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli army began bombing Gaza, leveling buildings across the territory and attacking refugee camps, saying the attacks targeted members of the Islamic Jihad armed group, including the group’s senior commanders. Palestinian officials said the majority of those killed were civilians.

The civilian death toll in the Israeli offensive on Gaza was “overwhelming”, the UN rights chief said.

“International humanitarian law is clear. Launching an attack that is expected to accidentally kill or injure civilians or damage civilian objects, to an extent greater than the expectation of substantial and direct military advantage, is prohibited. Such attacks must stop,” Bachelet said.

The UN human rights office has confirmed that at least 22 civilians, including 17 children and four women, were among the 48 Palestinians killed in the three-day attack from Friday to Sunday.

Nearly two-thirds of the 360 ​​Palestinians injured in the Israeli attack were civilians, including 151 children, 58 women and 19 elderly people.

‘Environment of Impunity’

Children were also killed in several Israeli attacks that “also hit civilian objects, causing civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects”, the UN chief said in a statement.

Palestinian armed groups also fired hundreds of rockets and mortars indiscriminately at Israel over the weekend, injuring civilians and damaging civilian infrastructure and property, the UN chief said, adding that the attacks were also “violations of international humanitarian law”.

(Al Jazeera)

Israeli officials said a total of 70 Israelis were wounded in the weekend fighting.

Bachelet also said the number of Palestinians was alarming due to the widespread use of live ammunition by Israeli forces to enforce law in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The UN Human Rights Office in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has documented the killing of 74 Palestinians, including 20 children, so far this year. In several instances, Israeli forces used lethal force in ways that appeared to violate international human rights law, she added.

Bachelet called for swift, independent, impartial and transparent investigations into all incidents in which any person was killed or injured, and she deplored the “climate of impunity” and “prolonged violations” that “perpetuated a cycle of violence” in the region.

She said that “an almost total lack of accountability in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues – wRepeated Israeli violations of international human rights law and occupation laws in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, including violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the hostilities in Gaza or the unnecessary and disproportionate use of force.

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