GENEVA - The United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Thursday that Israel's deadly strikes on Gaza may constitute war crimes if they are shown to be disproportionate.
Bachelet, opening a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, called at the request of Muslim states, said she had seen no evidence that civilian buildings in Gaza hit by Israeli strikes were being used by for military purposes.
"If found disproportionate, such attacks might constitute war crimes," she told the 47-member Geneva forum. She also urged Hamas Islamist rulers in Gaza to refrain from firing indiscriminate rockets on Israel.
At least 254 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children, in the Gaza Strip during the war. Another 1,948 people were wounded, according to Gaza’s health ministry, which does not differentiate between fighters and civilians. Twelve people were killed in Israel, including an Israeli soldier and two children. The bombardment of the blockaded Gaza Strip destroyed about 1,000 homes and badly damaged hundreds more. Hospitals, clinics and main sewage and water lines were also damaged or destroyed.
The violence, which erupted in the final days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, angered citizens across Gulf Arab states, some of whom expressed support for Palestinians and opposition to Israel on social media or in limited street protests.