Israel May Have Violated Laws of War in Gaza Campaign, UN Rights Office Says 

People sit in the back of a truck moving along a road in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 18, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
People sit in the back of a truck moving along a road in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 18, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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Israel May Have Violated Laws of War in Gaza Campaign, UN Rights Office Says 

People sit in the back of a truck moving along a road in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 18, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
People sit in the back of a truck moving along a road in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 18, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

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 characterized 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.



Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
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Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

The Middle East was reeling Sunday from deadly violence with Israel bombing Gaza, Lebanon and Yemen in quick succession in response to attacks from Iran-backed militant groups.
Despite Washington's top diplomat asserting a deal is near the "goal line" to end more than nine months of devastating war between Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas, the Israeli military said it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen, as it pressed on with its offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory, Agence France Presse reported.
Dozens have been killed since Saturday across the Gaza Strip, the civil defense agency said, including in strikes on homes in the central Nuseirat and Bureij areas and displaced people near southern Khan Yunis.
Residents said a major operation was underway in the district of Rafah in the south, reporting heavy artillery and clashes.
The deadly strikes in Gaza came hours after Hezbollah and its ally Hamas said they fired at Israeli positions from south Lebanon, while Yemen's Houthi group vowed to respond to Israeli warplanes hitting a key port.
The fire left raging by the strikes on Hodeida port "is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.
Detailing the first strikes claimed by Israel in Yemen, Gallant warned of further operations if the Houthis "dare to attack us" after a Houthi drone strike killed one in Tel Aviv on Friday.
In Hodeida three people were killed and 87 wounded, health officials said in a statement carried by Houthi media.
Netanyahu travels to Washington
The trio of militant groups has vowed to keep up attacks on Israel until a truce ends the violence in Gaza, which lies in ruins, with most residents forced to flee their homes.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which 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 are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel's military retaliation to wipe out Hamas has killed at least 38,919 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The war has also unleashed hunger and health crises in Gaza, with Israel and the United Nations trading blame for vital aid supplies failing to reach those in need.
After the detection of poliovirus in Gaza sewage, though no individual cases, the World Health Organization said there were "monumental" constraints to mounting a timely response.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Friday the agency believes many more diseases are "spreading out of control" inside Gaza.
The premier is due to address US lawmakers Wednesday in Washington, where he will be under pressure to reach a ceasefire with Hamas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday a truce was within reach.
"I believe we're... driving toward the goal line in getting an agreement that would produce a ceasefire, get the hostages home, and put us on a better track to trying to build lasting peace and stability," he said.