The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accuses Israel and Hamas of war crimes

The attacks by Hamas and allied armed groups in October 2023, as well as the current siege of the Gaza Strip by Israel, constitute war crimes, according to a report submitted by High Commissioner Volker Türk to the ONU Human Rights Council on Thursday.

The blockade imposed on Gaza is a collective punishment

The blockade imposed on Gaza is a collective punishment“can be tantamount to using famine as a weapon, and both, if committed intentionally, are war crimes,” commented Türk when presenting the report at the 55th session of the Council.

The document also considers Hamas’ attacks and torture of civilians on October 7 and 8, as well as its indiscriminate firing of projectiles into Israeli cities during the current conflict, as war crimes.

The October attacks “were shocking and completely unjustified.” (…), but also the brutality of the Israeli reaction,” emphasized the Austrian High Commissioner in his speech.

Israel’s response included “unprecedented levels of killing and maiming of Gaza civilians, including against UN staff and journalists, a humanitarian crisis due to aid restrictions, and the displacement of at least three-quarters of Gaza’s population.” ” he explained.

The situation is “incomparably worse” than before, although Türk also recalled that Palestinians had suffered “56 years of Israeli occupation with deeply discriminatory control systems.”

Condemn the situation in Gaza

The situation in the Gaza Strip is getting worse “16 years of blockade that in practice left 2.2 million people in captivity and devastated the local economy”he claimed.

The High Commissioner used his intervention to warn of a possible large-scale Israeli military operation in Rafah, in the far south of the Gaza Strip, which he said would, if it materialized, “take the Strip into a new dystopian dimension.” “Given that 1.5 million displaced Gazans are crowded into this area.

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“A ground attack could potentially result in great loss of life, even more cruel crimes and further displacement to unsafe areas,” Turk warned.

“I cannot understand how such an operation could comply with the interim measures dictated by the International Court of Justice,” the high commissioner said, referring to the Hague court ruling in January that ordered Israel to take all necessary measures to prevent genocide prevent in the Gaza Strip.

Türk also pointed out this Thursday the serious situation in the West Bank, where more than 7,000 Palestinians have been arbitrarily detained since October 7, 3,400 of them with no trial in sight and more than 600 held incommunicado .

“Israeli leaders must accept the right of the Palestinians to live in an independent state, and the leaders of Palestine must take into account Israel’s right to exist in peace and security,” the Austrian High Commissioner concluded.

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