U.N. Challenges Israel: Alleges Defensive Strikes in Gaza Possible ‘War Crimes’

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - MAY 08: Palestinians stand next to a burning barricade during clashes with Israeli police officers during the holy month of Ramadan on May 8, 2021 in Jerusalem, Israel. Tensions continue in Jerusalem's Old City after clashes in Al-Aqsa Mosque where dozens of Palestinians were seriously injured. (Photo …
Amir Levy/Getty

Israeli forces may have committed war crimes in its defense against attacks by Gaza Strip-based terrorist group Hamas, the U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet declared Thursday.

The diplomat also called on Israel to allow an independent probe of the IDF’s actions over the 11-day conflict.

The war crime allegation came as the U.N.’s top human rights body opened a one-day special session examining “the grave human rights situation” in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

AP reports Bachelet said Hamas’ indiscriminate terror rocket fire during the conflict was also a clear violation of the rules of war.

She was addressing a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC), held at the request of Muslim states who seek a commission of inquiry to investigate possible crimes and establish command responsibility.

Bachelet detailed to the UNHRC the “most significant escalation of hostilities since 2014” left devastation in the Gaza Strip before a cease-fire last week.

The war killed at least 248 in Gaza, including 66 children and 39 women. In Israel, 12 people also died, including two children.

“Air strikes in such densely populated areas resulted in a high level of civilian fatalities and injuries, as well as the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure,” Bachelet said.

She cautioned that unless the “root causes” of the violence are addressed, “it will certainly be a matter of time until the next round of violence commences with further pain and suffering for civilians on all sides.“

The Organization of Islamic Conference has presented a resolution that, if passed by the council, would herald a permanent commission to report on human rights in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

Israel — backed at times by the United States — accuses the council of anti-Israel bias and has generally refused to cooperate with its investigators.

Israeli Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar said Hamas — designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and its allies — had fired 4,400 rockets at Israeli civilians from “from Palestinian homes, hospitals, and schools. Each one of these rockets constitutes a war crime.”

“What would you do if rockets were fired at Dublin, Paris, or Madrid,” she asked.

This would not the first time such a line of inquiry has been sought by the UNHRC if it is agreed.

The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, also known as the Goldstone Report, hosted a similar inquest in 2009 confronting aspects of the 2008-9 Gaza War.

Its findings were subsequently retracted.

AP contributed to this story

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