Turk: Rafah offensive could result in war crimes

Тюрк: наступление на Рафах может обернуться военными преступлениями

Residents of Gaza waiting for food. Turk: Rafah offensive could result in war crimes Human Rights

The Israeli offensive on the city of Rafah, where 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip have taken refuge, will significantly increase the risk of war crimes, acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk warned about this on Friday.

Turk’s spokesman Jeremy Lawrence told reporters in Geneva that the already disastrous situation could worsen in the coming days as the Israeli army threatens a full-scale invasion of the densely populated city if Hamas militants do not release the remaining hostages by the start of Ramadan.

The holy month for Muslims around the world begins this weekend – a time for “peace and tolerance,” a spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said.

Palestinians, with nowhere else to flee, live in “deplorable conditions” in Rafah, he added. According to the High Commissioner’s Spokesperson, any ground attack on Rafah would cause massive casualties and increase the risk of atrocities such as war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

“This cannot be allowed. “We also fear that further Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to East Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan could further exacerbate tensions in the West Bank,” Lawrence said.

Release the hostages

The High Commissioner in turn said that the hostages taken by Hamas and other militants during the October 7 attacks on Israel have been suffering in captivity for 150 days , and called for their unconditional release.

At the same time, according to the OHCHR spokesman, Israel, as an occupying power, must fully comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law and ensure access to basic necessities, food and medicine for all civilians in Gaza.

In addition, safe corridors and border crossings must be opened, and measures must be taken for the free movement of humanitarian aid convoys.

Settlement expansion

Turk also deplored reports that Israel had given permission to build 3,476 settler houses in the occupied West Bank, saying it exacerbated “oppression, violence and discrimination against Palestinians.”

In his report to the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner stated that the establishment and expansion of such settlements amounted to Israel displacing its own civilian population into occupied territories, a war crime under international law.

According to OHCHR data from November 1, 2022 to October 31 last year, approximately 24,300 housing units were built in existing Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including 9,670 in East Jerusalem, the highest indicator since the beginning of observations in 2017.

The report finds that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is supporting settlers on an unprecedented scale, expanding its long-term control over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and integrating the occupied territory into the State Israel.

Read also:

UN: human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel must not go unpunished

According to Turk, this contradicts the views of much of the international community, as outlined during a hearing at the International Court of Justice just two weeks ago.

Violations of Palestinian Rights

“Western The Jordan River bank was already in crisis,” the High Commissioner said. However, he said, settler violence and settlement-related abuses had reached shocking new levels and risked destroying any possibility of a viable Palestinian state.

According to the latest UN data, settlers have carried out 603 attacks on Palestinians since October 7. A total of 1,222 people from 19 pastoral communities were forced to flee their homes as a result of the violence.

In addition, during the same period, the UN Human Rights Office recorded nine cases of killings of Palestinians settlers using firearms. An additional 396 people were killed by Israeli security forces, and two by Israeli forces or settlers.

Since October 7, 592 people, including 282 children, have been forced to relocate after how their homes in the West Bank were demolished due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are almost impossible to obtain, OHCHR reported.


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