GENEVA: Israel could be violating the laws of war by bombing Palestinian homes in Gaza, the UN´s human rights office said Friday, as the death toll from the Israeli strikes rose to 100.
“We have received disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes,” said spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani..
“Such reports raise doubts about whether the Israeli air strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” she told reporters.
International humanitarian law is UN-speak for the laws of war, and Shamdasani said targeting homes was a violation unless the buildings were being used for military purposes and even then, restrictions apply.
The death toll from Israeli airstrikes on Gaza hit 100 on Friday, including a woman and a seven-year-old child who were killed by the bombing of the home of an Islamic militant.
“In case of doubt, buildings that are ordinarily used for civilian purposes, such as homes, are presumed not to be legitimate military targets,” Shamdasani said.
Homes can only be fired on if they have been identified as being used for military purposes, and even then an attack must be “proportionate” and civilians should be protected, she added.
“On the Israeli side their responsiblity in international law is very specific,” Shamdasani said. “If there is even an iota of a doubt, homes are not legitimate military targets.
And if these homes are being used for military purposes, attacks must be proportionate, and precautions must be taken.