Israel may have violated laws of war in Gaza

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Israeli forces may have repeatedly violated the laws of war and failed to distinguish between civilians and fighters in the Gaza conflict, the UN human rights office said yesterday.

Separately, the head of a UN inquiry accused the Israeli military of carrying out an “extermination” of Palestinians.

In a report on six deadly Israeli attacks, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said Israeli forces “may have systematically violated the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack”.

“The requirement to select means and methods of warfare that avoid or at the very least minimise to every extent civilian harm appears to have been consistently violated in Israel’s bombing campaign,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said.

Israel’s permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva characterised the analysis as “factually, legally, and methodologically flawed”. “Since the OHCHR has, at best, a partial factual picture, any attempt to reach legal conclusions is inherently flawed,” it said.

Meanwhile, Israeli air strikes and clashes between troops and Hamas fighters rocked Gaza yesterday, as Israel’s army warned it had readied an “offensive” against the Lebanese Hezbollah movement on the country’s northern front.

Witnesses and the civil defence agency in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip reported Israeli bombardment in western Rafah, where medics said drone strikes and shelling killed at least seven people, reports AFP.

The Israeli military has announced a daily humanitarian “pause” in fighting on a key road in eastern Rafah, but a UN spokesman said days later that “this has yet to translate into more aid reaching people in need”.

The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been shut since Israeli troops seized its Palestinian side in early May, while nearby Kerem Shalom on the Israeli border “is operating with limited functionality, including because of fighting in the area”, said UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq.

“Fighting is not the only reason for being unable to pick up aid … The lack of any police or rule of law in the area makes it very dangerous to move goods there,” he said.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said yesterday that at least 37,396 people have been killed in the territory during more than eight months of offensive. The toll includes at least 24 deaths in the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said.

The offensive has sent tensions soaring across the region, with violence involving Iran-backed Hamas allies, reports Reuters.

The Israeli military, which has traded near-daily cross-border fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah since October, said late Monday that “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated”.

Yesterday, the military said its warplanes had struck Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon overnight, while reporting a drone had infiltrated near the border town of Metula.

Hezbollah claimed a drone attack on Israeli troops in Metula. The Iran-backed group also announced the death of two of its fighters.

  • UN rights office calls for investigations into attacks
  • Lawlessness in Gaza impedes aid via Kerem Shalom crossing: UN
  • Tensions soar on Israel-Lebanon border
  • Gaza death toll rises to 37,396

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