• Wednesday, 17 July 2024

UN says Israel's use of precision bombs could be a war crime

UN says Israel's use of precision bombs could be a war crime

Geneva, 19 June 2024 (dpa/MIA) - Israel has not been paying sufficient attention to the protection of civilians when using precision-guided bombs during the Gaza war, the UN Human Rights Office said on Wednesday.

"The requirement to select means and methods of warfare that avoid or at the very least minimise to every extent civilian harm appears to have been consistently violated in Israel's bombing campaign," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in Geneva.

The office has investigated six Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip between October 9 and December 2.

It assumes that bombs of the types GBU-31, GBU-32 and GBU-39 were used, which can penetrate concrete and destroy several floors of a building. They were used to attack residential buildings, a school, a refugee camp and a market, the agency said. At least 218 people had been killed.

In an attack presumably with nine GBU-31 bombs on December 2, the destruction affected an area with a diameter of 130 metres, the UN agency said, noting that it had destroyed 15 residential buildings and damaged 14 others.

The section of international humanitarian law governing combat situations states that civilian facilities must be spared as much as possible during attacks. If the presence of combatants is suspected, attacking forces must weigh up whether the damage caused does not outweigh the desired gains.

The presence of one or more terrorists or those involved in the massacres in Israel on October 7 in a building does not make an entire neighbourhood a legitimate target for an attack, the report states.

"Israel's choices of methods and means of conducting hostilities in Gaza since 7 October, including through the extensive use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in densely populated areas, have failed to ensure that they effectively distinguish between civilians and fighters," the report states. This could also constitute crimes against humanity, it noted.

The report also criticizes armed Palestinian groups for firing projectiles at Israel that could hit civilians. The UN Office for Human Rights points out that military equipment or personnel should not be stationed in densely populated areas.

Israel regularly criticizes the UN Human Rights Office and Türk for not condemning Hamas crimes in the same way it condemns Israel.

MIA file photo