UN rights chief says war crimes committed by all parties in Israel-Hamas conflict

Volker Turk says there were indications that Israeli forces have engaged in indiscriminate or disproportionate targeting

By Reuters

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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk listens to delegates after he delivered his report of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory during the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. — AFP
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk listens to delegates after he delivered his report of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory during the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. — AFP

Published: Thu 29 Feb 2024, 7:03 PM

UN human rights chief Volker Turk said on Thursday war crimes had been committed by all parties in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, calling for them to be investigated and for those responsible to be held accountable.

"Clear violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws, including war crimes and possibly other crimes under international law, have been committed by all parties," Turk told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.


"It is time — well past time — for peace, investigation and accountability."

Stay up to date with the latest news. Follow KT on WhatsApp Channels.


Turk, who was presenting a report on the human rights situation in Gaza and in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said his office had recorded "many incidents that may amount to war crimes by Israeli forces". He added there were also indications that Israeli forces have engaged in "indiscriminate or disproportionate targeting" in violation of international law.

Turk said Palestinian armed groups launching indiscriminate projectiles across southern Israel and the holding of hostages also violated international humanitarian law.

Israel says it is doing all it can to minimise harm to civilians.

In a speech that drew applause by many attendees at the UN Human Rights Council, Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi said: "Unfortunately, some condemn what happened on October 7, and with the strongest terms possible too, but no one remembers or condemns the killing of children, women, and elderly."

Elan Tiv, the daughter of former hostage Aviva Siegel who attended Turk's speech along with her mother, said those who applauded the Palestinian intervention "should be ashamed" of themselves.

"You shouldn't be able to sleep at night, because there are kids on both sides that are being killed," said Tiv, whose father Keith remains captive in Gaza.

Turk added that a ground offensive in the southern border town of Rafah, where some 1.5 million people are estimated to be crammed after fleeing their homes further north to escape Israel's offensive, would incur massive loss of life.

He said such an assault would increase the risk of atrocity crimes, spur more displacement and "sign a death warrant for any hope of effective humanitarian aid".


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