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UN commission accuses Israel of crimes against humanity

Photo: Eyad Baba Agence France-Presse A Palestinian child pushes another child sitting in a wheelbarrow along a narrow street in front of destroyed buildings in Khan Yunes, southern Gaza, on Tuesday.

Agnès Pedrero – Agence France-Presse and Christophe Vogt – Agence France-Presse in Geneva

Posted at 7:51 a.m. Updated at 5:12 p.m.

  • Middle East

Israel is responsible for crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip, notably for “extermination”, a UN commission of inquiry said on Wednesday, also accusing the Israeli authorities and armed groups Palestinians of war crimes since October 7.

The Israeli embassy in Geneva immediately accused the commission of “systematic discrimination” against it.< /p>

“Crimes against humanity of extermination, murder, gender-based persecution targeting Palestinian men and boys, forcible transfer, acts of torture and inhumane and cruel treatment were committed” by Israel , concludes this commission in a report. The latter was created by the Human Rights Council after the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in May 2021.

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The commission of inquiry “has proven once again that its actions are all in the service of a political agenda focused against Israel,” denounced the Israeli ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Meirav Shahar, in a press release.

Asked about this report, Antònio Guterres did not wish to comment on it. “But we are acutely aware of the unique level of destruction and casualties among the Palestinian population during these months of war, which has no precedent in any other situation that I have experienced as Secretary-General of the Nations united,” he said during a press briefing in Geneva.

Unlike genocide, crimes against humanity must not necessarily target a particular population group, but can target any civilian population, according to the UN. However, they must be committed as part of large-scale attacks, unlike war crimes, which can be isolated acts.

War crimes on October 7 and after

According to UN investigators, Israeli authorities and “the military wing of Hamas and six other Palestinian armed groups” are “responsible” for “war crimes”.

“It is imperative that all those who committed crimes are held accountable,” the chair of the commission said in a statement, the South African Navi Pillay, who was High Commissioner for Human Rights, president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and judge at the International Criminal Court.

The commission accuses Israeli authorities of “obstructing” its investigations and does not have access to Israel and the occupied territories.

The report is based on interviews with victims, conducted remotely and during a mission to Turkey and Egypt, as well as documents, including forensic reports and satellite images.

“Israel must immediately cease its military operations and attacks in Gaza,” demanded Ms. Pillay. “Hamas and Palestinian armed groups must immediately stop their rocket fire and release all hostages. Hostage-taking constitutes a war crime. »

The Israeli embassy responded that the commission “attempts to justify the heinous October 7 terrorist attack by contextualizing it through the prism of the Palestinian narrative. It does not mention the decades-long “terrorism” or the incessant rocket fire into Israeli territory.”

The war, triggered by the attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on October 7 on Israeli soil, led to the death of 1,194 people on the Israeli side, the majority civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli figures. . Of the 251 people kidnapped, 116 are still in the Gaza Strip, of whom 41 are dead, according to the Israeli army.

In this territory, more than 37,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have since been killed in bombings and Israeli ground military operations, according to data from the Hamas-led Gaza Strip's Health Ministry.

“Sexual violence”

Regarding October 7, the commission accuses Palestinian armed groups of having committed various war crimes, including attacks on civilians, murder and torture.

She also identified “sexual violence” which particularly targeted Israeli women, and concluded that these were not isolated incidents.

Regarding the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, the commission affirms that the Israeli authorities are “responsible for war crimes”: use of starvation as a method of war, intentionally directed attacks against civilians, sexual violence, torture and forced transfers.

In the West Bank, it ensures that Israeli forces have “committed acts of sexual violence, torture, inhuman or cruel treatment and attacks on personal dignity, all of which constitute war crimes.” On sexual violence, Israel denounces a “false equivalence”.

The commission asserts that the Israeli government and Israeli forces “permitted, encouraged, and incited a campaign of settler violence.”

The report also notes that statements by Israeli officials — “including those reflecting a policy of inflicting widespread destruction and killing large numbers of civilians” — may constitute serious international crimes, such as incitement to genocide or discrimination and violence.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116