Israel shelling house of Palestinian civilians may be war crime: UN

January 10th, 2009 - 1:13 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 10 (ANI): The United Nations has called for Israel to be investigated for war crimes over the shelling of a house full of Palestinian civilians which left dozens dead.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the attack on members of the extended Samouni family in the Gazan town of Zeitoun appears to have all the elements of war crimes.

Her remarks came after the International Committee of the Red Cross accused Israel of breaking the rules of war by failing to help the wounded in the incident, The Telegraph reported.

According to the ICRC, four infant children were found too weak to stand after clinging for 48 hours to what ambulance crew believed to be the corpses of their mothers while Israeli soldiers were less than 100 yards away.

Under the rules of war, soldiers have an obligation to treat properly the survivors of combat.

Speaking to an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council, Pillay said Palestinian militants firing rockets into Israel was unacceptable, but that it did not justify alleged abuses committed by the Israeli army.

She said conditions currently being endured by the 1.5 million strong population of Gaza constitute egregious violations of human rights.

Israel has denied there is any humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and said it is working in concert with international agencies and doing everything possible to reduce civilian casualties.

More than a hundred Palestinian children have been killed since Israel launched operation Cast Lead two weeks ago.

The ICRC has demanded more access to Zeitoun to try to establish the exact death toll in an incident that could be the bloodiest of the conflict so far.

With Israeli forces still in the area and unwilling to let ambulance crews in, apart from a short time on Wednesday, it is not possible to say how many members of the Samouni clan died. (ANI)

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