In a statement issued late Monday by his spokesman, Mr. Annan stressed that Israel has the legal and moral responsibility to take all measures to avoid the loss of innocent life, and that it “clearly failed to do so in using a missile against an apartment building.”
The Secretary-General called on the Israeli Government to halt such actions and to conduct itself in a manner that is fully consistent with international humanitarian law, the statement said.
Deeply concerned about the possible consequences of this attack, Mr. Annan urged the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority “to do all in their power to restore safety and security for the civilian population on both sides,” the spokesman said.
Adding her voice to the Secretary-General’s, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, also condemned the air attack.
“Under international human rights and humanitarian law, the reckless killing of civilians is absolutely prohibited, regardless of the military significance of the target being attacked,” Mrs. Robinson said in a statement released in Geneva.
She stressed that Israel, as a democratic society, “must not abandon its core standards and values, even in the face of the serious security threat to its own civilian population” and added that the country’s assassination policy “is in conflict with democratic standards and unlawful under international law.”
Mrs. Robinson, who has strongly condemned suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, said she was worried the air attack would serve to feed the ongoing violence. “The current cycle of savagery must end,” she emphasized. “In the eyes of the world, this requires responsible action from both sides of this tragic conflict.”