Both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes in Gaza: UN

Geneva: Both Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip have committed war crimes since the conflict there erupted on October 7 last year, according to a report by the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

“It is imperative that all those who have committed crimes be held accountable,” said the chair of the UN Human Rights Council Commission, Navi Pillay.

Pillay called on Israel to end its military action in the Gaza Strip. Israel’s war crimes include starving the population as a means of warfare, deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects, sexual violence, torture and inhuman or cruel treatment, the UN Rights Council reported.

Pillay also called for an end to the attacks by Palestinian armed groups on Israel and the release of all hostages.

The commission lists attacks on civilians, torture, inhumane and cruel treatment and hostage-taking as war crimes committed by the military arm of the Islamist Hamas movement and six other armed groups.

“The taking of hostages constitutes a war crime,” Pillay said.

During the Hamas attack on October 7 on Israel around 1,200 people were killed and another 250 taken as hostages. Around 120 are still in the hands of Hamas, but it is feared that many are already dead.

Israel responded to the attack with a massive military offensive on Gaza, in which more than 37,000 people have been killed and many more thousands injured, according to the Hamas authorities.

Around 85 per cent of the population in Gaza, 1.9 million people, has been forcibly displaced in the wake of the Israeli attacks, according to UN figures.

Israel had obstructed the work of the commission and had refused access to the occupied Palestinian territories, she said. According to the UN, this also includes the Gaza Strip.

The commission said it had analysed thousands of verified reports, forensic analyses, satellite images and medical reports, and spoken to victims and witnesses in Turkey and Egypt.

The report, presented in Geneva, is written by a commission of independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council.

The UN Human Rights Office has repeatedly spoken of war crimes on both sides.

Israel rejected the report. According to a statement from the Israeli embassy in Geneva, the commission had taken a one-sided view of the situation. It ignored the fact that Hamas used people as shields and thus put civilians in the line of fire, it said.

–IANS/DPA

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