Jun 11, 2024 - World

Israeli forces, Palestinian groups possibly committed war crimes in raid, UN says

Nuseirat refugee camp

Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza on June 9. Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images

Both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups may have committed war crimes in relation to the holding and freeing of hostages, the United Nations warned Tuesday.

Why it matters: The rebuke comes after Israel conducted a military operation this weekend to rescue four hostages being held by Hamas in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza.

  • Gaza health officials said the operation killed more than 270 Palestinians. The Israeli Defense Forces said the figure was "less than 100."

The big picture: The UN is "profoundly shocked" at the Israeli operation's impact on civilians in Gaza, Jeremy Laurence, spokesperson for the U.N. human rights office, said in a statement.

  • "The manner in which the raid was conducted in such a densely populated area seriously calls into question whether the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution — as set out under the laws of war — were respected by the Israeli forces," he said.
  • Armed Palestinian groups holding hostages in densely populated areas endanger the lives of both the hostages and surrounding Palestinian civilians, he noted.

What they're saying: In response, Israel's Permanent Mission to the United Nations accused UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk of "slandering Israel," Reuters reported.

  • "The toll of this war on civilians is first and foremost the product of Hamas's deliberate strategy to maximize civilian harm," the mission said.

State of play: The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Monday calling for Hamas to accept a hostage and ceasefire deal.

  • There are 120 hostages still being held in Gaza, at least 42 of whom are confirmed dead.
  • More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which killed about 1,200 people and saw 250 others taken hostage.
  • This isn't the first time the UN has warned both parties may have committed war crimes in the enclave.
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