UN says Israeli forces may have committed war crimes in Israel's Nuseirat massacre

AP , AFP , Ahram Online , Tuesday 11 Jun 2024

The UN human rights office is citing possible war crimes by Israeli forces in connection with a massacre in the Nuseirat refugee camp by Israeli forces that freed four captives over the weekend and killed hundreds of Palestinians.

Israel s Nuseirat massacre
In this file photo, Palestinians look at the aftermath of the Israeli bombing in Nuseirat refugee camp, Gaza Strip. AP


"We are profoundly shocked at the impact on civilians of the Israeli forces' operation in the Nuseirat camp at the weekend to secure the release of four hostages," Laurence told reporters in Geneva.

"Hundreds of Palestinians, many of them civilians, were reportedly killed and injured," Laurence added.

"The manner in which the raid was conducted, in such a densely populated area, seriously calls into question whether the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution -- as set out under the laws of war -- were respected by the Israeli forces."

At least 274 Palestinians were killed in the operation. The death toll includes 64 children and 57 women.

Medics described scenes of horror and chaos as wounded people poured into nearby hospitals that were already struggling to treat the wounded from days of heavy Israeli strikes in the area.

“We had the gamut of war wounds, trauma wounds, from amputations to eviscerations to trauma, to TBIs (traumatic brain injuries), fractures, and obviously, big burns,” said Karin Huster of Doctors Without Borders, an international charity working in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, one of the facilities that received dead and wounded.

“Kids completely grey or white from the shock, burnt, screaming for their parents. Many of them are not screaming because they are in shock.”

In the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, Palestinians described coming under intense bombardment and heavy gunfire.

Laurence said Palestinian armed groups who are holding captives in densely populated areas are putting the lives of nearby civilians and the hostages at “added risks” from the hostilities.

“All these actions by both parties may amount to war crimes,” he told a regular UN briefing in Geneva.

“It was catastrophic, the way that this was carried out in that civilians — again — were caught smack bang in the middle of this,” Laurence added.

Asked about captives held in Gaza, Laurence said this was also "prohibited by international law"."They must be freed. All of them. Promptly," he added

Israel's relentless bombing and ground offensive in Gaza has killed at least 37,124 people there, also mostly women and children. Palestinians are facing widespread hunger because Israeli forces has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies. UN agencies say over 1 million in Gaza could experience the highest level of starvation by mid-July.

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