UN Probe Accuses Israel of Crimes Against Humanity, Hamas of War Crimes
UN Probe Accuses Israel of Crimes Against Humanity, Hamas of War Crimes

Geneva: A United Nations investigation concluded on Wednesday that Israel has committed crimes against humanity during the recent war in Gaza, including the crime of "extermination". The report also accused both Israeli and Palestinian armed groups of committing war crimes.

The independent Commission of Inquiry's report represents the United Nations' first comprehensive investigation into the events of the war, which began on October 7. The commission found that Israel had committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL).

The report highlighted "a widespread or systematic attack directed against the civilian population in Gaza." It stated, "The commission found that the crimes against humanity of extermination; murder; gender persecution targeting Palestinian men and boys; forcible transfer; and torture and inhuman and cruel treatment were committed."

Israel rejected the conclusions of the report, accusing the UN commission of "systematic anti-Israeli discrimination".

The Gaza war erupted after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on October 7, resulting in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

The commission also found that members of the military wings of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, along with Palestinian civilians, committed war crimes, violations, and abuses of IHL and IHRL during this attack.

The report detailed that militants seized 251 hostages, of which 116 remain in Gaza. However, the Israeli army reports that 41 of these hostages are deceased.

Following the attack, the Israeli army launched a devastating offensive on the Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of more than 37,000 people, the majority of whom were civilians, according to the health ministry of the Hamas-ruled territory.

Established by the UN Human Rights Council in May 2021, the unprecedented Commission of Inquiry focused on the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas since October 7.

Commission Chair Navi Pillay, a former UN rights chief and International Criminal Court judge, emphasized, "It is imperative that all those who have committed crimes be held accountable." She added, "Israel must immediately cease its military operations and attacks in Gaza."

Pillay also stressed, "Hamas and Palestinian armed groups must immediately cease rocket attacks and release all hostages. The taking of hostages constitutes a war crime."

The commission concluded that members of Hamas, other Palestinian armed groups, and civilians participating in the October 7 attack "deliberately killed, injured, mistreated, took hostages, and committed sexual and gender-based violence against civilians and members of the Israeli security forces."

"These actions constitute war crimes and violations and abuses of IHL and IHRL," the report stated.

The commission further documented "significant evidence of the desecration of corpses, including sexualized desecration, decapitations, lacerations, burning, severing of body parts, and undressing."

It also reported that "women were subjected to gender-based violence during their execution or abduction. Women and their bodies were used as trophies of victory by male perpetrators."

Additionally, the commission found that many children who witnessed their relatives being killed "were also filmed for propaganda purposes," calling it "particularly egregious that children were targeted for abduction."

The report criticized Israeli authorities for "failing to protect civilians in southern Israel on nearly every front."

Regarding Israel's actions in Gaza, the commission found Israeli authorities "responsible for the war crimes of starvation as a method of warfare, murder or wilful killing, intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, forcible transfer, sexual violence, torture and inhuman or cruel treatment, arbitrary detention, and outrages upon personal dignity."

The report stated that "starvation will affect the Gaza population, particularly children, for decades to come," and criticized the siege imposed by Israel as "collective punishment and reprisal against the civilian population, both of which are clear violations of IHL."

In the West Bank, the commission found that Israeli forces committed acts of sexual violence, torture, inhuman or cruel treatment, and outrages upon personal dignity, all of which constitute war crimes.

The report also accused Israel's government and forces of "permitting, fostering, and instigating a campaign of settler violence against Palestinian communities" in the territory.

The report was based on interviews with victims and witnesses conducted remotely, as well as in Turkey and Egypt, and by studying thousands of verified open-source items, satellite imagery, and forensic medical reports.

"Israel obstructed the commission's investigations and prevented its access to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory," the commission added.

Read More:

Hamas Requests Complete Halt to Gaza Conflict in Response to US Plan

UN Security Council Supports US-Israel-Gaza Ceasefire Plan, Here's Why

Gaza Conflict Updates: Hamas Accuses Israel of War Crimes, US Consulate Vandalized in Sydney


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