UN Commission: Israel and Hamas guilty of war crimes

Both Israel and Hamas have committed human rights violations and war crimes in the past six months, according to two reports released Wednesday by a United Nations special commission of inquiry. One report focuses on the Hamas attack of October 7, the other focuses on Israel’s actions in Gaza and the West Bank between October 7 and December 31.

The investigation was carried out by an international commission of inquiry from the UN human rights office. This committee was established in 2021 in the wake of that year’s war between Israel and Hamas to investigate violations of international law in Israel and Palestine. The reports now prepared are based, among other things, on interviews with victims and eyewitnesses, NGO reports, collected photographic and video material, medical reports and satellite images.

Forced displacement

According to the commission, the Israeli authorities are responsible, among other things, for the war crimes of “the use of starvation as a method of war, murder or intentional killing, deliberate attacks against civilians and civilian objects, forced displacement, sexual violence “. , torture and inhuman or cruel treatment, arbitrary detentions and violations of human dignity.”

The committee also concludes that Israel has committed several crimes against humanity, including “extermination” and “gender-based persecution of Palestinian men and boys.”

Hamas and six other Palestinian armed groups that participated in the attack on Israeli border communities on October 7 are also responsible for a long list of war crimes, according to the commission. Including “intentional attacks on civilians, murder or deliberate killing, torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, destruction or confiscation of the opposing party’s property, violations of human dignity and taking of hostages, including children.”

Furthermore, the “indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets toward Israeli cities,” which has resulted in the deaths of civilians, is a clear violation of human rights, the report states.

No interviews with victims

The commission also said Hamas and other armed groups committed “sexual and gender-based violence against civilians and members of the Israeli security services,” after reviewing images showing partially naked or mutilated bodies and interviews with witnesses. It has not been possible to interview the victims or study forensic evidence.

Researchers say they have information that there are indeed survivors of sexual violence, but there is little willingness to speak out, possibly due to “the risk of stigma and retraumatization.”

The report’s authors also note that Israeli authorities have hindered the investigation into sexual violence committed by Hamas. According to investigators, they allegedly ordered medical staff, among other things, not to speak to them.

Israel denounced the allegations against it on Wednesday and accused the committee of equating Israeli actions with those of Hamas. He accuses the report’s authors of “systematic discrimination against Israel.” Hamas has not yet responded.

The investigative committee will present the reports next week to the UN Human Rights Council, which meets in Geneva.

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