STORY: :: File

Israeli forces may have repeatedly violated the laws of war and failed to distinguish between civilians and fighters in the Gaza conflict, according to the U.N. human rights office on Wednesday (June 19).

:: Jabalia, Gaza

:: Israeli army

Separately, the head of a U.N. inquiry accused the Israeli military of carrying out the "extermination" of Palestinians.

The U.N. rights office, or OHCHR, issued a report examining six Israeli attacks that caused many casualties and destroyed civilian infrastructure.

This was its spokesperson, Jeremy Laurence.

"It notes that unlawful targeting when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population in line with the state or organizational policy may also implicate the commission of crimes against humanity."

::Near Gaza City, Gaza

Israel's permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva characterized the analysis as "factually, legally, and methodologically flawed."

It said the OHCHR had, "at best, a partial factual picture."

Laurence said the attacks examined occurred before December but were part of a continued pattern, though it was getting harder to assess the situation on the ground as the war went on.

In a separate meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, the head of a U.N. Commission of Inquiry, Navi Pillay, said perpetrators of abuses in the conflict must be brought to account.

::Jabalia, Gaza

She repeated findings from a report published last week that both Hamas militants and Israel have committed war crimes.

But she said Israel alone was responsible for the most serious abuses under international law known as "crimes against humanity."

"We conclude that Israeli authorities are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including extermination, intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, murder or wilful killing, using starvation as a method of war, forcible transfer, gender persecution targeting Palestinian men and boys, sexual and gender-based violence amounting to torture, and cruel or inhumane treatment."

Israel, which does not cooperate with the inquiry and alleges an anti-Israel bias, chose the mother of a hostage held by Hamas to speak on its behalf at the meeting.

MEIRAV LESHEM GONEN: "The international community must not allow political consideration to override our core human values."

::Tel Aviv, Israel

And it criticized the report on the grounds that it did not give due attention to the hostages taken by Hamas in its attack on southern Israel on October 7.