Israel may have violated laws of war in Gaza, UN rights office says

Israel may have violated laws of war in Gaza, UN rights office says
Mourners react next to the bodies of Palestinians, killed in Israeli strikes due to a military operation in Rafah, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, during their funeral in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, June 18, 2024. (REUTERS)
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Updated 19 June 2024
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Israel may have violated laws of war in Gaza, UN rights office says

Israel may have violated laws of war in Gaza, UN rights office says
  • The head of a UN inquiry accused the Israeli military of carrying out an “extermination” of Palestinians

GENEVA: 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 on Wednesday.
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 minimize 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.
In a separate meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the head of a UN Commission of Inquiry, Navi Pillay, said perpetrators of abuses in the conflict must be brought to account.
She repeated findings from a report published last week that both Hamas militants and Israel have committed war crimes but said that Israel alone was responsible for the most serious abuses under international law known as “crimes against humanity.”
She said the scale of Palestinian civilian losses amounted to “extermination.”
“We found that the immense numbers of civilian casualties in Gaza and widespread destruction of civilian objects and infrastructure were the inevitable result of an intentional strategy to cause maximum damage,” Pillay, a former UN rights chief and South African judge, told the meeting.
Israel, which does not typically cooperate with the inquiry and alleges an anti-Israel bias, chose the mother of a hostage to speak on its behalf and criticized the report on the grounds that it did not give due attention to hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7.
“We can do better for them. The hostages need us,” Meirav Gonen, the mother of 23-year-old hostage Romi Gonen, said in a tearful appeal.

Heavy weaponry
Israel’s air and ground offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory, according to health authorities there.
Israel launched its assault after Hamas fighters stormed across the border into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 250 people hostage, according to Israeli tallies.
The UN rights office report details six incidents that took place between Oct. 7 and Dec. 2, in which it was able to assess the kinds of weapons, the means and the methods used in these attacks.
“We felt that it was important to get this report out now, especially because in the case of some of these attacks, some eight months have passed, and we are yet to see credible and transparent investigations,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN human rights office.
She added that in the absence of transparent investigations, there would be “a need for international action in this regard.”
Pillay also condemned Israel’s military methods in Gaza, saying the use of heavy weapons in densely populated areas “constitutes an intentional and direct attack on the civilian population.”
Commissioner Chris Sidoti later told reporters that its findings, which are being shared with the International Criminal Court, showed that Israel was “one of the most criminal armies in the world.”
He said the inquiry, which aims to investigate the treatment of hostages, as well as that of thousands of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, had so far been hindered by Israel.
“Far from having cooperation, what we have encountered is obstruction,” he said. 


Israeli strike kills 4 aid workers in Gaza ‘safe zone,’ UK-based group says

Updated 4 sec ago
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Israeli strike kills 4 aid workers in Gaza ‘safe zone,’ UK-based group says

Israeli strike kills 4 aid workers in Gaza ‘safe zone,’ UK-based group says
The strike also killed three staffers from other aid groups using the warehouse, the Al-Khair foundation said
The warehouse was located in Muwasi, an area on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast that is part of a “humanitarian safe zone” where Israeli has told Palestinians to take refuge

GAZA: A UK-based aid group said one of its employees in Gaza was killed Friday in an Israeli strike that hit its warehouse located inside an Israeli-declared humanitarian safe zone. The strike also killed three staffers from other aid groups using the warehouse, the Al-Khair foundation said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.
The Israeli army did not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment on Friday’s strike.
The warehouse was located in Muwasi, an area on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast that is part of a “humanitarian safe zone” where Israeli has told Palestinians to take refuge.
After a two-week Israeli offensive in northern Gaza, dozens of bodies were collected throughout Gaza City’s Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood and brought to Al-Ahli Hospital on Friday morning. Civil defense workers said they were still recovering dead and wounded from destroyed streets and buildings.
Israel launched the war in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Since then, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 38,300 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Health Ministry. It does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.
Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are crammed into squalid tent camps in central and southern Gaza. Israeli restrictions, fighting and the breakdown of law and order have limited humanitarian aid efforts, causing widespread hunger and sparking fears of famine. The top United Nations court has ordered Israel to take steps to protect Palestinians as it examines genocide allegations against Israeli leaders. Israel denies the charge.



A UK-based aid group said one of its employees in Gaza was killed Friday in an Israeli strike that hit its warehouse located inside an Israeli-declared humanitarian safe zone. (AFP)

More than half a million children in Gaza missing out on vital education amid Israeli-Hamas war: UNRWA

More than half a million children in Gaza missing out on vital education amid Israeli-Hamas war: UNRWA
Updated 19 min 55 sec ago
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More than half a million children in Gaza missing out on vital education amid Israeli-Hamas war: UNRWA

More than half a million children in Gaza missing out on vital education amid Israeli-Hamas war: UNRWA
  • 600,000 children had been unable to attend school this year because of the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war

LONDON: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees warned on Friday that the Gaza Strip was on the verge of “losing an entire generation of children” due to the ongoing Israeli aggression, now in its 10th month.

The organization said that more than 600,000 children had been unable to attend school this year because of the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war raging in the enclave. 

UNRWA added it would be extremely difficult for children to recover the education they have missed out on since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on southern Israel and the subsequent Israeli retaliation.

It also noted that two-thirds of its schools in Gaza had been destroyed, while the rest had been converted into shelters for hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians.

Statistics from the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health assert that approximately 16,000 children have died in Israeli bombings or from illness, famine and malnutrition since the start of the Israeli aggression. 

A letter penned by three experts published in the Lancet medical journal earlier this week said the number of children who might have died in the conflict could be much higher, with thousands of children believed to be trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings.


UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation

UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation
Updated 12 July 2024
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UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation

UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation
  • Any opinion delivered by the International Court of Justice would be non-binding, but it will come amid mounting international legal pressure on Israel
  • "A public sitting will take place at the Peace Palace in The Hague ... during which Judge Nawaf Salam... will read out the Advisory Opinion," the ICJ said

THE HAGUE: The UN's top court will next week hand down its view on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, a case in which some 52 countries made submissions.
Any opinion delivered by the International Court of Justice would be non-binding, but it will come amid mounting international legal pressure on Israel over the war in Gaza sparked by the brutal October 7 Hamas attacks.
"A public sitting will take place at the Peace Palace in The Hague (on July 19) ... during which Judge Nawaf Salam... will read out the Advisory Opinion," the ICJ said on Friday.
The ICJ held a week-long session in February to hear submissions from countries following a request from the United Nations late last year.
The UN has asked the ICJ to hand down an "advisory opinion" on the "legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem".
Most speakers during the hearings have demanded that Israel end its occupation, which came after a six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967.
But the United States said Israel should not be legally obliged to withdraw without taking its "very real security needs" into account.
Speakers also warned a prolonged occupation posed an "extreme danger" to stability in the Middle East and beyond.
Israel did not take part in the oral hearings.
It submitted a written contribution, in which it described the questions the court had been asked as "prejudicial" and "tendentious".
The case before the court is separate from one brought by South Africa against Israel for alleged genocide during its current offensive in Gaza.
South Africa has gone to the ICJ several times arguing that the dire humanitarian situation means the court should issue further fresh emergency measures.
In an initial ruling on January 26, the ICJ ordered Israel to do everything it could to prevent acts of genocide during its military operation in Gaza.
It also called for the unconditional release of hostages taken by Palestinian militant group Hamas during its October 7 assault that sparked the war.


Israel’s security cabinet extends military service: report

Israel’s security cabinet extends military service: report
Updated 12 July 2024
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Israel’s security cabinet extends military service: report

Israel’s security cabinet extends military service: report
  • The 36-month rule will stay in force for the next eight years
  • Israel is planning to send draft notices to thousands of ultra-Orthodox seminary students

JERUSALEM: The Israeli government’s security cabinet has approved a plan to extend compulsory military service for men to 36 months from the current 32 months, Israel’s Ynet news outlet reported on Friday.
The 36-month rule will stay in force for the next eight years, Ynet reported, after a meeting of the security cabinet that took place late on Thursday.
The measure is likely to be submitted to a vote in a meeting of the full cabinet on Sunday, it said.
Israel’s military commanders have said they need to boost manpower so they can sustain the war with the Hamas militant group in Gaza and a confrontation with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia.
In a separate initiative, Israel is planning to send draft notices to thousands of ultra-Orthodox seminary students who were previously exempt from military service.


Hamas calls for independent Palestinian government in post-war Gaza

Hamas calls for independent Palestinian government in post-war Gaza
Updated 27 min 23 sec ago
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Hamas calls for independent Palestinian government in post-war Gaza

Hamas calls for independent Palestinian government in post-war Gaza
  • Negotiations occurring in Doha, Qatar and Cairo with aim of bringing about ceasefire in Gaza
  • Netanyahu demanded Israel retain control of Philadelphi corridor along border with Egypt

GAZA: Hamas is suggesting during ceasefire negotiations that an independent government of non-partisan figures run post-war Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, a member of the Palestinian Islamist movement’s political bureau said Friday.
“We proposed that a non-partisan national competency government manage Gaza and the West Bank after the war,” Hossam Badran said in a statement about the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas with mediation from Qatar, Egypt, and the United States.
“The administration of Gaza after the war is a Palestinian internal matter without any external interference, and we will not discuss the day after the war in Gaza with any external parties,” Badran added.
A Hamas official told AFP the proposal for a non-partisan government was made “with the mediators.”
The government will “manage the affairs of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the initial phase after the war, paving the way for general elections” said the official, who did not want his name disclosed.
Badran’s remarks came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that Israel retain control of the Philadelphi corridor, Gaza territory along the border with Egypt. This condition conflicts with Hamas’s position that Israel must withdraw from all Gaza territory after a ceasefire.
Netanyahu said on Thursday that control of the Philadelphi corridor is part of efforts to prevent “weapons to be smuggled to Hamas from Egypt.”
The negotiations are occurring in Doha, Qatar and Cairo, Egypt with the aim of bringing about a ceasefire in Gaza as well as the return of hostages still held there by Hamas.
The war began on Oct. 7 with Hamas’s unprecedented attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza, including 42 the military says are dead.
Israel responded with a military offensive that has killed at least 38,345 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza