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UN human rights chief urges all parties in Gaza and Israel to pull back from confrontation

16 November 2012 – The United Nations human rights chief today urged all parties in Gaza and Israel to pull back from an “increasingly dangerous confrontation” and respect their obligations under humanitarian law to protect citizens, according to her spokesperson.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, “is following the unfolding situation in Gaza and southern Israel with considerable alarm,” her spokesperson, Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva.

“She is appalled that once again civilians are losing their lives, including three Israeli citizens killed in their apartment by one of the hundreds of rockets fired over the past week as well as several Palestinian children, including a baby, and also a pregnant woman and some other civilians killed in Gaza,” he said.

The new wave of violence in Gaza and southern Israel – which includes rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza, and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza – has resulted in several people being killed or wounded on both sides.

“The High Commissioner has repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, and is deeply concerned both by the recent major upsurge in the number of rocket attacks, and that they are now being aimed at a major city, such as Tel Aviv,” Mr. Colville said.

“She is also extremely concerned by the sharp increase in aerial attacks by Israeli forces on the heavily populated Gaza Strip in the past two days and urges both sides to pull back from an increasingly dangerous confrontation,” he added.

Ms. Pillay’s comments echo those of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who, earlier this week, called to both sides to take serious steps to avoid further escalation and ensure the protection of civilians.

On Monday, Mr. Ban called for an immediate cessation of indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israel. Two days later, he expressed his concern about the deteriorating situation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and noted his expectation that Israeli reactions are measured so as not to provoke a new cycle of bloodshed that could cause additional civilian casualties and have dangerous spill-over effects in the region.

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