UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Thursday (11 August) she was alarmed by the number of Palestinian children killed in recent days and called for those responsible to be held accountable.
In the past week, 19 Palestinian children have been killed, bringing the death toll to 37 since the beginning of the year, according to the High Commissioner’s Office. 17 were killed during hostilities in Gaza from August 5-7 and two others were killed in Israeli law enforcement operations in the West Bank on August 9. “The high number of children killed or injured this year is unimaginable,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
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On August 5, the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip launched an operation presented as “preventive” against Islamic Jihad, killing its key military leaders in Gaza as well as several fighters from the group. “The civilian cost of the latest escalation in Gaza on August 5-7 was high,” according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Michelle Bachelet’s services have confirmed that among the 48 Palestinians killed, at least 22 were civilians, including 17 children and 4 women. Of the 360 Palestinians reported injured, nearly two-thirds were civilians, including 151 children, 58 women and 19 elderly people.
The Israeli army claims that Palestinians, including children, have been killed by rockets fired at Israel by Islamic Jihad but mistakenly landed in the Palestinian enclave. According to the High Commissioner’s Office, several Israeli attacks apparently hit civilian property. “Such attacks must stop,” said Michelle Bachelet. She also accused Palestinian armed groups of firing hundreds of rockets in indiscriminate attacks that caused civilian casualties and damaged civilian property in Israel and Gaza.
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The High Commissioner has called for immediate, independent, impartial, thorough and transparent investigations into all incidents in which people have been killed or injured. “An almost total lack of accountability persists (…) whether for the violations of international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the hostilities in Gaza, or for the repeated Israeli violations of international human rights law and the law of occupation in the West Bank, including Eastern Jerusalem,” said Michelle Bachelet.