The UN human rights chief on Friday urged an investigation into what he called Israel’s use of “high-impact explosive weapons” in Gaza, which he said was causing indiscriminate destruction in the besieged Palestinian enclave.
Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Israel must end its use of such weapons in the densely populated area, home to 2.3 million Palestinians, half of whom have been displaced by fighting in the last month.
Turk was not specific about what weapons he was referring to. Asked for comment, the Israeli military said it was making checks and would respond later.
“The extensive Israeli bombardment of Gaza, including the use of high-impact explosive weapons in densely populated areas ... is clearly having a devastating humanitarian and human rights impact,” Turk told a news conference during a visit to Jordan’s capital Amman.
“The attacks must be investigated ... We have very serious concerns that these amount to disproportionate attacks in breach of international humanitarian law.”
Gaza officials said Israel launched airstrikes on or near at least three hospitals on Friday, further endangering a health system swamped with thousands of casualties and people displaced by Israel’s war against Hamas in the Palestinian enclave.
“The Israeli occupation launched simultaneous strikes on a number of hospitals during the past hours,” Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra told Al Jazeera television.
Qidra said Israel targeted the courtyard of Al Shifa, the biggest hospital in Gaza City, and there were casualties, but he did not provide details. Israel said Hamas has hidden command centers and tunnels beneath Al Shifa, allegations Hamas denies.
Israel’s military did not immediately comment on Qidra’s statement, which Reuters could not independently verify.
West Bank violence
Volker Turk also told reporters in the Jordanian capital of Amman that Israel must take immediate measures to protect Palestinians in the West Bank as they find themselves targeted by more violence since the conflict with Hamas erupted last month.
“I also appeal, as a matter of urgency, for Israeli authorities to take immediate measures, to take steps to ensure the protection of Palestinians in the West Bank, who are being on a daily basis subjected to violence from Israeli forces and settlers, ill treatment, arrests, evictions, intimidation and humiliation,” Turk said.
Volker Turk said at least 176 Palestinians, including 43 children and one woman, had been killed in incidents involving Israeli security forces since the beginning of October. At least eight Palestinians had been killed by Israeli settlers.
Before Oct. 7, it was already the deadliest year on record for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, with about 200 killed.
The worsening violence in the West Bank has fueled concerns that the Palestinian territory could become a third front in a wider war, in addition to Israel’s northern border where clashes with Lebanese Hezbollah forces have taken place.
“It is Israel’s duty to ensure that all incidents of violence are promptly and effectively investigated, and that victims are provided with effective remedies,” Turk said.
“Continued widespread impunity for such violations is unacceptable, dangerous, and it is in clear violation of Israel’s obligation under international human rights law.”
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and said it has also been conducting counter-terrorism operations against militants from the group and other Palestinian armed factions in the West Bank.
Over the past 18 months, Israeli troops have killed hundreds of Palestinians and made thousands of arrests across the West Bank.
The devastating Gaza conflict has claimed over 12,300 lives on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, according to data released by health authorities on both sides on Thursday.
The Gaza Strip’s health department on Thursday revealed a staggering death toll of 10,812 people since the outbreak of the current round of the conflict starting on Oct 7.
In addition, the West Bank has reported that Israel killed 173 Palestinians.
Netanyahu once again rules out ceasefire, says no plans to occupy GazaIsrael’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out a ceasefire in Gaza on ... Middle East
Travel demand drops as people cancel flights to Mid East amid Israel’s war on GazaInternational flight bookings around the world have fallen since the onset of ... Aviation & Transport
Death toll in Gaza-Israel conflict surpasses 12,300The devastating Gaza conflict has claimed over 12,300 lives on both the ... Middle East