Israel’s occupation military raids in the Occupied West Bank targeting the Jenin Refugee camp “may prima facie constitute a war crime,” a group of UN experts said on Wednesday, Anadolu Agency reports.
“Israeli forces’ operations in the Occupied West Bank, killing and seriously injuring the occupied population, destroying their homes and infrastructure and arbitrarily displacing thousands, amount to egregious violations of international law and standards on the use of force and may constitute a war crime,” the experts said in a statement.
Noting that Israeli forces killed at least 12 Palestinians, including five children, and injured more than 100 Palestinians, between Monday and Tuesday, the statement said the attacks are “one of Israel’s biggest military operations in the Occupied West Bank in years.”
It said that the attacks damaged infrastructure, houses and apartment buildings, forcing 4,000 Palestinians to flee.
“The attacks were the fiercest in the West Bank since the destruction of the Jenin camp in 2002,” the experts said.
“It is heart-breaking to see thousands of Palestinian refugees originally displaced since 1947-1949, forced to march out of the camp in abject fear at the dead of night,” they added.
The statement condemned Israeli occupation forces’ so-called “counter-terrorism” actions as they had “no legal justification under international law” and expressed “grave concern” about military weaponry and tactics deployed by Israel’s occupation forces at least twice over the last two weeks against Jenin’s population.
“The Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are protected persons under international law, guaranteed of all human rights including the presumption of innocence,” it said.
“They cannot be treated as a collective security threat by the occupying Power, all the more while it advances the illegal annexation of occupied Palestinian land, and displacement and dispossession of its Palestinian residents,” the statement said.
It said that Israel’s raids in Jenin were “amplifications of the structural violence that has permeated the Occupied Palestinian Territory for decades.”
“The impunity that Israel has enjoyed for its acts of violence over decades, only fuel and intensify the recurring cycle of violence,” the statement said.
The UN experts called for Israel to be held accountable under international law for its “illegal occupation and violent acts to perpetuate it.”
“For this relentless violence to end, Israel’s illegal occupation must end. It cannot be corrected or improved in the margins, because it is wrong to the core,” they said.
The Israeli offensive came amid rising tensions across the Occupied West Bank in recent months amid repeated Israeli raids into Palestinian towns.
Nearly 190 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of this year, according to the Ministry of Health. At least 25 Israelis have also been killed in separate attacks during the same period.
Estimates indicate that around 700,000 illegal Israeli settlers are living in 164 settlements and 116 outposts in the Occupied West Bank.
Under international law, all Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal.