Tue, 05 Dec 2023

Horrendous events in Gaza beggar belief, says UN High Human Rights Commissioner

By Jay Jackson, Santa Barbara News.Net
20 Nov 2023, 20:37 GMT+10

GENEVA, Switzerland - Western leaders headed by U.S. President Joe Biden, and including the prime ministers of the UK, Canada and Australia, and President Macron of France, continue to ignore a call by human rights organizations and medical authorities demanding a stop to the savagery of the Israeli army which has continued the almost total destruction of the tiny Gaza Strip, killing more than 12,000 people, the majority of whom are women and children. Over 5,000 children have now died at the hands of the U.S.-backed Israeli army soldiers and Air Force pilots.

"The horrendous events of the past 48 hours in Gaza beggar belief," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said Sunday.

"The killing of so many people at schools turned shelters, hundreds fleeing for their lives from Al-Shifa Hospital, amid continuing displacement of hundreds of thousands in southern Gaza, are actions which fly in the face of the basic protections civilians must be afforded under international law."

"Images purportedly taken in the aftermath of the reported Israeli strike on Al Fakhoura school are horrifying, clearly showing large numbers of women, children and men severely wounded or killed. At least three other schools hosting displaced Palestinians have also been attacked in the past 48 hours," The UN human rights chief said.

"Israeli military operations have been continuing inside and around Al Shifa hospital. UN colleagues visited the site yesterday, and witnessed first-hand what they described as a 'death zone'. Medical personnel, patients, and civilians have fled the hospital, ordered to do so by the Israeli military. Hundreds were seen making their way south on foot, at great risk to their lives, health and safety. And to where? Nowhere is safe in Gaza."

The Israeli army has denied they ordered the evacuations, however numerous doctors have confirmed the report. On Monday the Israeli army said they had killed three Hamas divisional commanders as fighter jets in coordination with the army's 933rd Nahal Brigade bombed a warehouse, based on intelligence from the Shin Bet.

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The death toll in Gaza is now more than ten times the number of Israelis killed in the 7 October Hamas massacre which triggered the onslaught on the enclave.

"In Khan Younis, the Israeli Defense Forces are dropping leaflets demanding residents go to unspecified "recognized shelters", even as strikes take place across Gaza. Already displaced Palestinians - deprived by extreme restrictions on life-saving assistance - are struggling to meet their basic needs, forced into ever-diminishing, over-crowded, unsanitary unsafe spaces. Irrespective of warnings, Israel is obliged to protect civilians wherever they are," Turk said.

"Rules of international humanitarian law, including the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in carrying out the attacks must be strictly adhered to. Failure to adhere to these rules may constitute war crimes."

"The pain, dread, and fear etched on the faces of children, women and men is too much to bear. How much more violence, bloodshed and misery will it take before people come to their senses? How many more civilians will be killed? the UN Human Rights Commissioner asked.

"This must stop."

"Humanity must come first. A ceasefire - on humanitarian and human rights grounds - is desperately needed. Now," he said.

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