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Sunday, April 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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U.N. official seeks war crimes probe

Gaza residents tell of troubling incidents

Smoke caused by explosions from Israeli military operations hangs in the sky over the outskirts of Gaza City  on Friday.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Smoke caused by explosions from Israeli military operations hangs in the sky over the outskirts of Gaza City on Friday. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
By Ahmed Abu Hamda and Dion Nissenbaum McClatchy

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – The U.N. high commissioner for human rights called Friday for an investigation of possible Israeli war crimes in Gaza as local residents told more gruesome tales about Israeli troops neglecting wounded civilians and the killing of unarmed Palestinians.

High Commissioner Navi Pillay noted the case of four boys who were rescued Wednesday by the International Committee of the Red Cross from the side of their dead mother in a dwelling 100 yards from an Israeli military post. The Red Cross called the incident “shocking,” and Pillay told the BBC that it “had all the elements of what constitutes a war crime.”

Eyewitnesses interviewed by McClatchy correspondents, along with Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, described gruesome scenes in and near Gaza City.

Among them: the charred remains of a toddler that had been partially devoured by wild animals, reported by the Red Cross; an infant bleeding to death in his mother’s arms, reported to a McClatchy special correspondent; and an unarmed man allegedly shot to death by an Israeli soldier in front of his family, reported by a relative who spoke to a McClatchy special correspondent and a witness who was interviewed by an Israeli human rights group.

McClatchy staff reporters couldn’t independently verify the alleged violations of international law because Israel has blocked foreign correspondents from entering Gaza.

The Israeli military says it’s investigating the reports, but it defended its soldiers.

“Israeli forces aim for military targets,” said Maj. Avital Leibovich, the chief Israeli military spokeswoman for the international media.

Israel and Hamas ignored a unanimous U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire. The Israeli government dismissed it as ineffective and impractical, while Gaza militants launched more rockets Friday into southern Israel, causing no serious injuries.

There was no sign that the conflict would end soon. Instead, Israeli leaders directed the military to intensify operations in Gaza, where about 800 Palestinians have been killed in the past two weeks, according to Palestinian medical officials.

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