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UN probe concludes Israel committed crimes against humanity in Gaza, accuses Hamas of war crimes (WATCH)

A United Nations investigation on Wednesday concluded that Israel has committed crimes against humanity, including "extermination," during the Gaza war.

UN probe concludes Israel committed crimes against humanity in Gaza, accuses Hamas of war crimes (WATCH) snt
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First Published Jun 12, 2024, 1:13 PM IST

A United Nations investigation on Wednesday concluded that Israel has committed crimes against humanity, including "extermination," during the Gaza war. The report also stated that both Israeli and Palestinian armed groups have committed war crimes.

This in-depth investigation by the independent Commission of Inquiry marks the UN's first comprehensive examination of the events that began on October 7.

The report found that Israel has violated international humanitarian law (IHL), international human rights law (IHRL), and committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. It highlighted "a widespread or systematic attack directed against the civilian population in Gaza."

"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," it added.

Israel has rejected the UN commission's conclusions, accusing it of "systematic anti-Israeli discrimination."

The Gaza war erupted following Hamas's unprecedented attack on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP report tally based on Israeli official figures.

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

Hamas terrorists seized 251 hostages, with 116 still held in Gaza; the Israeli army reports that 41 of these hostages are deceased.

In response, the Israeli army launched a devastating offensive on the Gaza Strip, resulting in over 37,000 deaths, the majority of them civilians, according to the health ministry of the Hamas-ruled territory.

The unprecedented Commission of Inquiry was established by the UN Human Rights Council in May 2021 to investigate alleged violations of IHL and IHRL in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Since October 7, the three-member commission has concentrated on the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas.

"It is imperative that all those who have committed crimes be held accountable," said the commission's chair Navi Pillay, a former UN rights chief and an ex-International Criminal Court judge.

"Israel must immediately stop its military operations and attacks in Gaza. Hamas and Palestinian armed groups must immediately cease rocket attacks and release all hostages. The taking of hostages constitutes a war crime," Pillay added.

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

These acts were committed against both civilians and members of the Israeli security forces.

"These actions constitute war crimes and violations and abuses of IHL and IHRL," it said.

The commission further said it found "significant evidence on the desecration of corpses, including sexualised desecration, decapitations, lacerations, burning, severing of body parts and undressing".

"Women were subjected to gender-based violence during the course of their execution or abduction. Women and women's bodies were used as victory trophies by male perpetrators," it added.

Many children who witnessed their relatives being killed were "also filmed for propaganda purposes," with the commission finding it "particularly egregious that children were targeted for abduction."

The report stated that Israeli authorities "failed to protect civilians in southern Israel on almost every front."

Regarding actions in Gaza, the commission found Israeli authorities "responsible for the war crimes of starvation as a method of warfare, murder or willful 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 noted that starvation will affect the Gaza population, particularly children, "for decades to come," and that "the siege it imposed... constitutes collective punishment and reprisal against the civilian population, both of which are clear violations of international humanitarian law (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, categorizing these as war crimes.

According to the commission, Israel's government and forces "permitted, fostered, and instigated a campaign of settler violence against Palestinian communities" in the territory.

The report is based on remote interviews with victims and witnesses, as well as interviews conducted in Turkey and Egypt. It also incorporates thousands of verified open-source items, satellite imagery, and forensic medical reports.

The commission stated that Israel obstructed its investigations and prevented access to both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The report is scheduled to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council next week.

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