Israel Palestine Conflict

Gaza ‘powder keg’ could spark wider war: UN rights chief

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The Gaza war between Israel and Hamas is a “powder keg” with the potential to spark broader con-flict in the Middle East, UN human rights chief Volker Turk said on Monday.

Turk said it was imperative to do everything possible to avoid a wider conflagration.

“The war in Gaza has already generated dangerous spillover in neighboring countries,” he said in his global update to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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“I am deeply concerned that in this powder keg, any spark could lead to a much broader conflagra-tion. This would have implications for every country in the Middle East and many beyond it.”

He said that overlapping emergencies made the specter of spillover conflict very real.

“The military escalation in southern Lebanon between Israel, Hezbollah and other armed groups is extremely worrying,” Turk said.

The UN high commissioner for human rights said almost 200 people had been killed in Lebanon and some 90,000 internally displaced.

There was also extensive damage to health facilities, schools and vital infrastructure.

“Incidents in which civilians, including children, paramedics and journalists, have been killed in at-tacks must be fully investigated,” said Turk.

“It is imperative to do everything possible to avoid a wider conflagration.”

The Gaza war began after the October 7 attack by Hamas, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures.

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The Palestinian militants also took hostages, 130 of whom remain in Gaza.

Israel's retaliatory bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza have killed more than 30,000 people in under five months, most of them women and children, according to the territory's Hamas-run health ministry.

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