UN to investigate ‘war crimes’ by Israel and Hamas
The UN has announced an investigation into potential war crimes committed during the latest escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The international body stated on Tuesday that it had “clear evidence” of serious violations by both sides, and called on them to adhere to international human rights law.
The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry, which is tasked with investigating violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said in a statement that it “has been collecting and preserving evidence of war crimes committed by all sides since 7 October 2023.”
The commission was established under a UN Human Rights Council resolution in May 2021. It condemned the Hamas attack on Israel launched on Saturday, stating that the discriminatory killing of unarmed civilians and hostage-taking “cannot be tolerated” and amounts to “war crimes.”
It also expressed “grave concern” over Israel’s response, saying that its attack on Gaza and the “complete siege” of the exclave “constitutes collective punishment.”
The commission vowed to ensure “legal accountability” of all those responsible for violations of international law. It added that it would identify anyone linked to war crimes on both sides, including in command positions, and that the relevant information would be shared with judicial authorities, including the International Criminal Court.
The UN body urged all sides to refrain from further violence and called for “the unconditional and safe release of all individuals who have been taken hostage by Palestinian armed groups.” It also insisted that the only way to end the conflict was to address its “root causes,” including the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and recognizing the right of Palestinians to self-determination.
Militant group Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel on Saturday, firing thousands of rockets and briefly overrunning Israeli settlements bordering Gaza. According to the Israeli authorities, the attack and subsequent fighting have claimed the lives at least 900 Israelis, including 123 members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Israel responded to the attack with a massive bombing campaign against Gaza. The exclave’s Ministry of Health said at least 510 Palestinians have been killed and 2,751 injured in Israeli air raids, as of Monday.