Middle East medical system ’on the verge of a complete breakdown’

An international law expert from the University of KwaZulu Natal has described ongoing rocket strikes...

Physiotherapists treat a Palestinian girl, Jamela Habbash,15, who lost her legs during an Israeli missile at the Al-Shifa hospital on January 8, 2008 in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Picture: Abid Katib/Getty Images

An international law expert from the University of KwaZulu Natal has described ongoing rocket strikes by Hamas as "morally repulsive and provocative".

However, Professor Max Du Plessis also said on Thursday Israel had to be careful how it retaliated because more civilians had died than Hamas militants since the offensive started 20 days ago.<?xml:namespace prefix="o" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office"?>

He was speaking at a seminar on international law hosted by the Human Science Research Council in <?xml:namespace prefix="st1" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"?><city w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Pretoria.

Du Plessis collated several international rules which he said were applicable to the conflict in the <place w:st="on">Middle East in which more than 1000 Palestinians were killed.

Du Plessis said Hamas air strikes were a clear violation of international law.

“There is no doubt that the firing of rockets by Hamas is legally unjustifiable and in addition to that a war crime, we therefore can safely say that Hamas’ actions are unacceptable.”.

He also said <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Israel</country-region>’s behavior was not acceptable in the eyes of the law adding its actions could not be justified.

“The over 1000 Palestinians already killed have been civilians, many of them appear to have been killed in direct attacks,” said du Plessis.

Du Plessis also raised concerns about the medical system in the <place w:st="on">Middle East saying it was on the verge of a complete breakdown.