Situation in Gaza could amount to 'war crime,' says UN human rights chief

Fri, 29 Mar 2024 6:43 GMT
There is 'plausible' evidence that Israel uses starvation as weapon, Volker Turk tells BBC.
Situation in Gaza could amount to 'war crime,' says UN human rights chief

The situation in Gaza could amount to a “war crime,” the UN human rights chief said Thursday.

“You always have to prove the intent but as I said, collective punishment, the collective punishment that was declared with the siege is indeed amount to a war crime, and it needs to be dealt as such,” Volker Turk told BBC.

He added that “Israel is to blame in a significant way” for the situation in Gaza, and said that there was “plausible” evidence that Israel was using starvation as a weapon.

“The brutality of the attack by Israel and the method of warfare, it begs the question of the proportionality of the response,” the UN official added.

He stressed that Israel as an occupying power, “has an obligation to provide humanitarian assistance.”

“And if that humanitarian assistance does not come in, in the scale, speed, and predictability that is required, yes, very serious questions are raised,” Turk noted.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on Palestinian territories since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas which killed around 1,200 people.

More than 32,000 Palestinians have since been killed and some 75,000 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which in January issued an interim ruling that ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.


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