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UN: Israeli strikes on Palestinian homes could breach laws of war
Published Friday 11/07/2014 (updated) 13/07/2014 11:41
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A Palestinian man reacts following an Israeli air strike in Gaza
City on July 11, 2014.(AFP/Mohammed Abed)
GENEVA (AFP) -- Israel could be violating the laws of war by bombing Palestinian homes in Gaza, the UN's human rights office said Friday, as the death toll from the Israeli strikes rose to over 100.

"We have received disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes," said spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani.

"Such reports raise doubts about whether the Israeli air strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law," she told reporters.

International humanitarian law is UN-speak for the laws of war, and Shamdasani said targeting homes was a violation unless the buildings were being used for military purposes.

"In case of doubt, buildings that are ordinarily used for civilian purposes, such as homes, are presumed not to be legitimate military targets," she said.

"Even when 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 to protect civilians," she added.

Israel has accused Hamas and other Palestinian militants who have fired hundreds of rockets at its territory of deliberately placing military installations in densely-populated Gaza in order to use civilians as human shields.

"Military assets should not be located in densely-populated areas and attacks should not be launched from such areas," said Shamdasani.

"This is a call to the armed groups on the Palestinian side," she added, condemning their attacks on Israeli civilian areas, which have injured less than a dozen people.

"On the Israeli side, however, their responsibility in international law is very specific. If there is even an iota of a doubt, homes are not legitimate military targets. And if these homes are being used for military purposes, attacks must be proportionate, and precautions must be taken," said Shamdasani.

"It is incumbent on both parties to ensure that their military operations respect the law, no matter what the obstacles and no matter what the difficulties."
1 ) Shona / UK
11/07/2014 18:47
The UN's human rights office did not say on Friday, that Fortress Gaza and radical Islamic Hamas could be violating the laws of war by targeting Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Bedouin homes. Because the UN is run by fifty seven powerful Islamic nations.

2 ) JoeFattal / USA
11/07/2014 18:49
Come on now, we all dealing with Israel. Israel care less about civilians even their own. They let the rockets fire over their head and expect the iron-dome to intercept them and in return they hit civilian targets in Gaza. If they have hit over 700 targets how come Hamas still launching their rockets into Israel. Even the EU is puzzle about who is launching the rockets with all the damages the airstrikes have inflicted on Gaza.

3 ) Mel / USA
11/07/2014 18:49
And,many of the bodies,discovered in the ruins of the missile strikes,are found with EXCESSIVE BURNS.i.e.FRIED! That's WAR CRIMES for sure & Dr's Without Borders should GO &investigate whether Israel is using EXPERIMENTAL weapons again,as in 2008/9 DIME(miniature fissile-organ-dissolving ingredients)& Fleshette weps,as well as neuro chems inside cannisters dropped. The Zionist State is an evil dirty killer.Using Palestinians as lab-rats for "field-tested" weps! WAR CRIMES ALL ROUND from Israel

4 ) Israeli strikes on Palestinian / homes
11/07/2014 18:52
and what do Palestinians strike?

5 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
11/07/2014 19:08
What a load of crap, but standard incompetent doublespeak from the UN kapos. Shooting rockets at civilians *IS* a war crime. There is no doubt about it. The disturbing report is that the UN is toothless and gonad-less to do anything to stop war crimes. We saw it in Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The UN does not care and spends all its time and money trying to kill Israel, not save lives. Shamdasani should be fired immediately.

6 ) David / USA
11/07/2014 19:35
But Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli homes AREN'T?? Hamas respects the law? Are you serious? Hamas invented the strategy of using private homes, businesses, mosques, schools, and hospitals as weapons depots and launching sites. Strangely, we don't hear the UN screaming about those law-breaking activities. I wonder why?

7 ) Arnold / Canada
11/07/2014 20:02
And what about Hamas playing Russian roulette with their missiles. They fire them and wonder where they will land. If the IDF targets a civilian home they know the home is a weapons warehouse and warn the residents to leave. Be seious you idiots. 4 days of bombing and only .... YES ONLY .....maybe 100 dead. This is pinpoint bombing by the IDF to make sure civilians are not being targetted. When the Syrian army dropped bombs in the first 4 days there were literally thousands killed.

8 ) Jack / USA
11/07/2014 20:34
And Palestinian rockets don't breach laws of war? Sometimes one wonders who is actually chosen to seat those positions

9 ) joanna zaliki / greece
11/07/2014 21:09
Of course Israel is violating laws and conventions of war!!! They are targetting civillians. Why are un us and European union allowing such despicable behaviour?

10 ) christian palestinian / usa
11/07/2014 22:02
When will the UN take forceful action against the racist apartheid state of israel ?

11 ) Tobias / USA
11/07/2014 22:19
* GAZA MILITANTS operating near Palestinian homes could
* DEFINITELY "BREACH LAWS OF WAR" (use of human-shields), and
such breaches makes Palestinian homes legitimate military targets !!

12 ) Carol Scheller / Switzerland
11/07/2014 23:24
"could" ?!

13 ) Mutassim / Palestine
11/07/2014 23:25
Well if President Abbas quickly accedes to the Rome Statute and goes to the ICC, we can all find out if the State of Israel is guilty of WAR CRIMES!!!

11/07/2014 23:37
i know this sounds wrong but all these pals dying time west bank blew up the part of the wall what is isreal going to do why let all these deaths go in vain acheive something towards moving things forward at leaST MORE FREEDOM MOVEMENT NOTHING IS CHANGING ON THE GROUND IN WEST BANKTHINGS GETTING WORSEPROTESTING IS GETTING NO WHERE EVERYDAY PEOPLE SHOT AND DELIBERATE IN THE EYES BLOWING UP PART OF ILLEGAL WALL NOW DO IT NOWNOTHING WILL BE DONE ABOUT IT

15 ) currie/curios / scotland
12/07/2014 00:03
What do you mean could be violating laws of war......they have been doing it for years. They have no argument now , trying to defend what they are doing is just appalling. Shame on Israel , shame on those who turn blind eye.

16 ) Chris / Canad
12/07/2014 00:16
OK. So, let's sum this up. Hamas targeting civilian homes in Israeli cities: "homes are not legitimate military targets"=war crimes Israelis warning Gaza civilians to stay away from structures that are used for military purposes and Hamas urging civilians to go to these structures=war crimes against Palestinians. Conclusion: Hamas are war criminals and need to be brought to justice, the sooner the better for both Palestinians and Israelis.

17 ) [email protected] / usa
12/07/2014 00:17
Is absolutely a war crime:(

18 ) some one / some where
12/07/2014 00:21
Miss Ravina Shamdasani,.i wonder if you have any brain in the war when 100 of missiles shoot at people the other side do not sit down over cup of coffee and figure out if the place is or is not the international Law is old and usless please do not make yourself more ridicule than you are

19 ) sorry for Ravina Shamdasani / Pakistan
12/07/2014 00:47
A fairly impartial statement by Ravina Shamdasani. But now, as a Pakistani, she will never be able to return to her homeland. Good thing she actually grew up in Hong Kong.

20 ) @ UN's Human Rights Office / Bias
12/07/2014 00:49
The UN's Human Rights Office is biased beyond belief, where it - says that one side must respond proportionately, while - saying nothing about the other side's blatant war crimes, and besides: * If a "home is identified as being used for military purposes, any attack" need NOT be proportionate (despite their personal bias), and further * If civilian casualties result, the militants that used the civilian areas and the civilians as human-shields are responsible for the casualties !!

21 ) gabi / australia
12/07/2014 04:00
So Israel is, again, breaching international law and the laws of war. Will the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, do anything about it? Condemnation? No. Too wired to the Israeli line "we are just innocent victims entitled to defend ourselves." Of course they are, but so are the Palestinians, but the difference is that Israel has helicopter gunships, planes to bomb the shit out of Gaza, armoured tanks, cf rockets, which so far have killed no-one, yet over 100 Palestinians including children are dead

22 ) Outlier / USA
12/07/2014 04:57
So essentially the UN's objection is that Israel is better at targeting than Hamas? No wonder the UN has become a laughingstock.

23 ) Tobias / USA
12/07/2014 05:40
All Palestinian strikes (regardless of their impotence) "breach the Laws of War", so there are no worries for Israel, about a disputable "could breach the Laws of War" issue.

24 ) where are the shelters? / where are the AIR SIRENS
12/07/2014 09:33
why are the Gazans not protected by their governmen t (like the Israelis)?

25 ) Maureen / Australia
12/07/2014 17:15
Think Israel and you think, double standards, extra judicial killings, elitism, land/home theft, ethnic cleansing, child imprisonment, imprisonment without charge or conviction, usurping WW2 Holocaust victims and WAR CRIMES!
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