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Over 800,000 forced to flee Rafah, no safe place left in Gaza: UNRWA chief

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Over 800,000 forced to flee Rafah, no safe place left in Gaza: UNRWA chief

2024-05-19 10:34 Last Updated At:12:47

More than 800,000 people, or nearly half of the population of Rafah, have been forced to flee the area since the Israeli Forces started the military operation there on May 6, said Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), on Saturday as he posted on his social media account.

In response to evacuation orders demanding people to flee to so-called safe zones, people went to areas without safe water and sanitation facilities, the UNRWA chief said.

Lazzarini also said that Gaza does not have safe zones today -- no places or people are safe.

Many Palestinian families in Gaza have been forced to flee multiple times, with some being displaced every month, UNRWA said in a statment.

UNRWA also said that the Israeli army's "safe zones" claim is false and misleading.

Over 800,000 forced to flee Rafah, no safe place left in Gaza: UNRWA chief

Over 800,000 forced to flee Rafah, no safe place left in Gaza: UNRWA chief

Over 800,000 forced to flee Rafah, no safe place left in Gaza: UNRWA chief

Over 800,000 forced to flee Rafah, no safe place left in Gaza: UNRWA chief

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Israeli army may have repeatedly violated laws of war in Gaza: UN report

2024-06-20 02:18 Last Updated At:06:17

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) may have repeatedly violated fundamental principles of the laws of war in a series of prohibited indiscriminate attacks on Gaza, according to a report issued by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office on Wednesday.

Released during the 56th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the report details six notable attacks targeting Gaza's residential buildings, a school, refugee camps, and a market between Oct 9 and Dec 2, 2023, which involved the suspected use of GBU-31, GBU-32 and GBU-39 bombs.

"The report details six emblematic attacks involving the suspected use of GBU-31s, or 2,000-pound bombs, GBU-32 1,000-pound bombs, and GBU-39, 250-pound bombs from the 9th of October to the 2nd of December 2023 on residential buildings, a school, refugee camps, and a market," said Jeremy Laurence, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at a press briefing in Geneva.

GBU-31, 32 and 39 bombs are mostly used to penetrate through several floors of concrete and can completely collapse tall structures. Given how densely populated the areas targeted were, the use of an explosive weapon with such wide area effects is highly likely to amount to a prohibited indiscriminate attack, the report finds.

The OHCHR has reported that at least 218 deaths have been confirmed as a direct consequence of the six attacks. However, it cautioned that the actual death toll is likely to be significantly higher.

"The report concludes that these Israeli strikes indicate that the IDF may have repeatedly violated fundamental principles of the laws of war. In this connection, it notes that unlawful targeting when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, in line with a State or organizational policy, may also implicate the commission of crimes against humanity," said Laurence.

The report also says that such unlawful targeting may also implicate the commission of crimes against humanity.

"Israel's choices of methods and means of conducting hostilities in Gaza since the 7th of October, including through the extensive use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in densely populated areas, have failed to ensure that they effectively distinguish between civilians and fighters," said Laurence.

"It became very clear to us that the nature of weapons that were used, especially on a wide area, that have a wide area effect, is extremely dangerous in the context of Gaza, and we have been saying this, in several reports and statements, that Gaza is a very densely populated area. And in these six incidents, we had sufficient information to demonstrate, the civilian casualties, both in terms of the deaths as well as injuries, and where we felt that the principles of international humanitarian law, particularly precaution, distinction, proportionality, were not necessarily followed," said Ajith Sunghay, an official with the OHCHR in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Although the report primarily focuses on Israel, it also highlights that Palestinian armed groups have continued to fire rockets indiscriminately towards Israel, inconsistent with their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Israeli army may have repeatedly violated laws of war in Gaza: UN report

Israeli army may have repeatedly violated laws of war in Gaza: UN report

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