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UN Alarmed by Number of Civilian Casualties in Gaza

Belal Khaled/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(GENEVA) -- The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is concerned about the large number of civilians that have been killed in Gaza after four days of back-and-forth aerial bombardment in the Mideast.

"Israel, Hamas, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have been down this road before, and it has led only to death, destruction, distrust and a painful prolongation of the conflict," Navi Pillay said in a statement Friday. "This time around, once again, civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict. I urge all sides to steadfastly respect their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law to protect civilians."

The recent rocket fire has left at least 100 people dead in Gaza -- many said to be women and children -- and hundreds more wounded.

Pillay warned the Israeli military against targeting civilians in their attacks on Gaza.

"For its part, the Government of Israel must take all possible measures to ensure full respect for the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack, during the conduct of hostilities, as required by international humanitarian law. In all circumstances, they must avoid targeting civilians,” she said.

“However, 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 added.

Pillay said every alleged violation of the law must be "promptly, independently, thoroughly and effectively investigated."

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