UN rights chief calls for end to Gaza ‘impunity’

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on July 31 urged the international community to end what she called a "climate of impunity" around the Israel-Palestine conflict. In light of the bombardment of a UN school in Gaza the previous day, Pillay called for "real accountability considering the increasing evidence of war crimes and an ever-growing number of civilian casualties, including some 250 children."

Six UN schools have now been hit, including another deadly strike on 24 July that also killed civilians. The shelling and bombing of UN schools which have resulted in the killing and maiming of frightened women and children and civilian men, including UN staff, seeking shelter from the conflict are horrific acts and may possibly amount to war crimes. If civilians cannot take refuge in UN schools, where can they be safe? They leave their homes to seek safety—and are then subjected to attack in the places they flee to. This is a grotesque situation.

Pillay underscored the need to adhere to to the recommendations of the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission, including the involvement of the International Criminal Court, as means of deterring "future violations, by ending the longstanding impunity that has been such a feature of this situation." While focusing on the circumstances of Palestinian non-combatants, Pillay also reiterated her condemnation of the tactics used by Palestinian groups, including locating military assets among civilians and the indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel, saying plainly that the "launching of indiscriminate attacks is a war crime."

From Jurist, Aug. 1. Used with permission.