UN report: Israel is committing “extermination” in Gaza

The situation in Gaza

Published 20 June 2024
- By Editorial Staff
UN report identifies Israel as responsible for most crimes against humanity.

A report presented to the UN Human Rights Council this week concludes that Israeli forces have committed a series of war crimes and crimes against humanity against the civilian population of Gaza – including a “campaign of extermination”.

It says civilians were systematically targeted and subjected to murder, torture, sexual violence, forced displacement and starvation as a method of warfare.

The report, prepared by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, was released last week.

The Commission was established to investigate human rights violations committed by Israeli forces and Palestinian militants, and focused primarily on violations of international humanitarian and human rights law from October 7 to December 31.

It notes, among other things, that “tens of thousands of children, women and men had been killed and injured” since October 7 and that both Israeli hostages and “thousands of Palestinians had been detained and were being held incommunicado”.

“In relation to Israel’s military operations and attacks in Gaza from 7 October, the Commission concluded that Israeli authorities were responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including extermination, intentionally directing attacks against civilians, murder or wilful killing, using starvation as a method of war, forcible transfer, gender persecution, sexual and gender-based violence amounting to torture, and cruel or inhuman treatment”, it said.

Deliberate targeting of civilians

“Israel’s “total siege” of the Gaza Strip had weaponised the provision of life-sustaining necessities for strategic and political gains including through cutting off supplies of water, food, electricity, fuel and other essential supplies, including humanitarian assistance. It constituted collective punishment, disproportionately impacting pregnant women and persons with disabilities, and was causing grave harm to children, including starvation-related deaths. The deliberate use of heavy weapons in densely populated areas constituted an intentional attack on the civilian population”, it added.

The commission also found that Israeli forces committed sexual violence to humiliate and further subordinate Palestinians to Israeli domination, and “specific forms of sexual and gender-based violence constituted part of Israeli Security Forces’ operating procedures”.

“In Gaza, Israeli Security Forces had killed and maimed tens of thousands of children, and thousands more likely remain under the rubble. Israeli attacks had also severely impacted infrastructure essential for children’s wellbeing, including hospitals, schools and basic services”, it added.

“Disregard for human rights”

The report notes that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have also committed war crimes, including deliberately attacking, killing and torturing civilians and taking Israeli civilians hostage. Here, too, “patterns of sexual violence” were found and it is stated that “these were not isolated incidents”.

– I am appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law by parties to the conflict of Gaza. There has been unconscionable death and suffering, UN Human Rights Commissioner Volker Türk told representatives of member states this week.

The Commission joined the UN Security Council in calling for an immediate and total ceasefire and for immediate access to Gaza to investigate and preserve evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity – a request that has been ignored by Israel.

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