The UN rights chief voices alarm at the number of Palestinian children killed and wounded and demands those responsible be brought to account.
Last week saw three days of intense conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the densely populated Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
“Inflicting hurt on any child during the course of conflict is deeply disturbing,” Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, says in a statement.
“The killing and maiming of so many children this year is unconscionable.”
The Israeli air and artillery strikes targeted positions of the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad group.
Bachelet’s office says that, also in violation of international humanitarian law, Palestinian terror groups also launched hundreds of rockets and mortars in indiscriminate attacks, causing civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects in both Israel and Gaza.
Her office says that 19 Palestinian children had been killed in the Palestinian territories in the recent unrest, taking the total number this year to 37.
Seventeen children were killed during the Gaza hostilities from August 5 to 7, while two more were killed on Tuesday in IDF operations in the West Bank.
The UN Human Rights Office OHCHR says that among the 48 Palestinians killed in last week’s Gaza conflict, there were at least 22 civilians. They included the 17 children and four women.
Of the 360 Palestinians reported injured, nearly two-thirds were civilians, including 151 children, 58 women and 19 older people, OHCHR says.
“In a number of incidents, children were the majority of casualties,” Bachelet’s office says.
“Launching an attack which may be expected to incidentally kill or injure civilians, or damage civilian objects, in disproportionate manner to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited,” she says.
Israel insists that some of the civilian deaths including children were killed by Islamic Jihad rockets that fell short or misfired.