UN Says Israeli Raid to Free Hostages May Have Involved War Crimes by Both Sides

June 12, 2024 by No Comments

The United Nations is expressing concerns about possible war crimes by both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups during a recent deadly raid by Israeli forces that freed four hostages and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians.

Office spokesman Jeremy Laurence voiced concerns about potential breaches of the principles of proportionality, distinction, and precaution by the Israeli forces during the Saturday raid on the Nuseirat refugee camp.

Palestinian health officials have reported that at least 274 Palestinians, including a significant number of women and children, were killed in the operation.

Laurence stated that Palestinian armed groups holding hostages in densely populated areas are placing civilians and hostages in “added risks” due to the ongoing hostilities.

“All these actions by both parties may amount to war crimes,” he told a routine U.N. briefing in Geneva.

“It was catastrophic, the way that this was carried out in that civilians — again — were caught smack bang in the middle of this,” Laurence added.

Referring to the “ordeal” faced by the hostages and their families, he said: “The fact that four hostages are now free is clearly very good news. These hostages should never have been taken in the first place. That’s a breach of international humanitarian law. They must be freed. All of them. Promptly.”

The Israeli diplomatic mission in Geneva criticized the U.N. human rights chief, Volker Türk, stating that the “high commissioner has finally realized that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields.”

“Yet, instead of taking a clear and consistent stance against this abhorrent strategy, he falls into the habit of slandering Israel,” the statement said. “This time, for rescuing our hostages.””

The U.N. rights office was not immediately available for comment.

Israel initiated its military operation against Hamas following the group’s surprise attack on October 7, where militants infiltrated southern Israel, killing approximately 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and taking around 250 hostages.

Israel’s military campaign against Hamas in Gaza has resulted in the deaths of over 36,730 people, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between combatants and civilians in its casualty figures.

Palestinians are facing widespread hunger as the war has severely restricted the flow of food, medicine, and other vital supplies. The UN estimates that over 1 million people in Gaza could experience the highest level of starvation by mid-July.