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Laws of war may be ‘repeatedly violated’ in Israeli attacks on Gaza: UN human rights office

The discovery follows investigations by the United Nations human rights office, OHCHRinto six attacks described as “symbolic” of Israel’s tactics in the more than eight-month war, involving the suspected use of bombs weighing up to 2,000 pounds (920kg) against residential buildings , schools, refugee camps and markets.

OHCHR noted that these weapons were approximately 12 feet (3.4 meters) long with smaller versions deployed between October 9 and December 2, 2023, causing 218 confirmed deaths. killed, OHCHR noted, adding that the actual death toll could be much higher.

The requirement to choose means and methods of warfare that avoid or at least minimize to any degree harm to civilians appears to have been repeatedly violated in Israel’s bombing campaign.,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk.

Target thousands

His office report citing an Israel Defense Forces update on November 11, 2023 that the Air Force has “hit more than 5,000 targets to eliminate threats in real time” since they began throwing bombed Gaza a month earlier. At that time, Gaza health authorities recorded 11,078 Palestinian deaths, another 2,700 missing, and about 27,490 injured.

Detailing strikes in the Ash Shuja neighborhood in Gaza City, the report’s authors note The destructive distance was measured at about 130 meters luxurious, destroyed 15 buildings. The extent of damage to buildings and the crater shows About nine 2,000-pound GBU-31 bombs were used, OHCHR said, adding that at least 60 people were believed to have been killed..

The OHCHR report said: “Israel’s choice of methods and means of conducting hostilities in Gaza since October 7, including the widespread use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in the areas populated areas, did not ensure that they could effectively differentiate between civilians and combat aircraft.” accused.

“People’s lives and infrastructure are protected under International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This law sets out very clear obligations of the parties in armed conflicts, in which the protection of civilians is the top priority.”

The sounds of war are non-stop

Meanwhile in Gaza, people today are forced to take shelter amid “unimaginable” devastation, said Ajith Sunghay, Director of the OHCHR Office in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Speaking to journalists via video link from Amman after returning from an assessment mission in multiple locations across the enclave, Mr. Sunghay described Gazans as “barely surviving” after repeated attacks. displaced by violence and IDF evacuation orders.

“Hospitals are overcrowded and smell bad…sewage overflows into tents, there is no clean water…If bombs don’t kill people, diseases will happen,” Mr. Sunghay said after visiting Khan Younis, Rafah and Deir-Al-Balah.

He added: “The sound of bombs, guns, and drones keeps ringing.” “The sounds of war echo day and night endlessly. In my 22 years working at the United Nations, including in many conflict and post-conflict situations, I have never seen the United Nations or its human rights and humanitarian aid partners face challenges like this when operating. The devastation is unimaginable.”

Khan Younis’s views have now “changed”, the OHCHR officer continued. “It is filled with completely and partially destroyed buildings and infrastructure. People I met told me they had to move 10 times…they were barely surviving.”

There is no time to relax

The report’s focus is on Israel, but it also highlights that Palestinian armed groups have continued to fire indiscriminately toward Israel. This is contrary to their obligations under international humanitarian law, the OHCHR investigation makes clear.

OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani echoed those concerns while also warning that Israeli military commanders did not appear to be changing their tactics in Gaza to save civilians, in accordance with the laws of war. Ms. Shamdasani also referenced statements from senior Israeli officials, including an IDF member quoted earlier in the war, saying: “You want hell, you will get hell.”

The OHCHR spokesperson continued: “We are aware that such attacks continue to take place in terms of the types of weapons used, the means and how they are used, along with some statements that you heard from Israeli officials, raises very serious concerns about compliance with international humanitarian law.”

Israel’s investigation call

Ms. Shamdasani also emphasized the need for an independent investigation into the attacks outlined in the report to determine whether they constitute war crimes and to hold the perpetrators accountable.

“As time goes on, it becomes much more difficult to conduct these investigations,” she said. “First, we call on the Israeli authorities to take steps to ensure proper, transparent investigations are conducted. In the absence of this – and if exemptions continue – international action on this issue is also needed.”


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