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UN official: Israeli actions in Gaza may be a war crime

There is a "strong possibility" that Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes and the killing of children is Gaza is a violation of international law and may be a war crime, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said today.

Pillay, who opened an emergency debate at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on the situation in Gaza, raised concerns about Israel's respect for proportionality.

"We have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes. Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law," Pillay said in a statement.

"In case of doubt, buildings ordinarily used for civilian purposes, such as homes, are presumed not to be legitimate military targets. Even where a home is identified as being used for military purposes, any attack must be proportionate."

She said all parties in the conflict must avoid residential areas.

The former UN war crimes judge said the situation in Gaza requires quick international action.

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