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Israel not fulfilling its international humanitarian law obligations: UN envoy

April 4, 2024 at 4:23 pm

A view of burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital due to the Israeli attacks that continue in Gaza City, Gaza on April 1, 2024. [Abdulqader Sabbah – Anadolu Agency]

The UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights said that “Israel is clearly refusing to implement its obligations under the international humanitarian law”, Anadolu Agency reports.

“Violence continues unabated. Israel, most recently, has launched a very large attack on a major hospital in Gaza, causing many hundreds of deaths there,” Ben Saul told Anadolu, noting that over 30,000 people have been killed, and over 70,000 wounded since 7 October.

Earlier, on Monday, Israel announced that it had withdrawn from the Gaza Strip’s largest health complex, Al-Shifa Hospital, and its surroundings after its two-week-long raids which began on 18 March.

The Hospital was previously raided on 16 November after it was besieged for one week when its courtyards, parts of its buildings, medical equipment and the power generator were destroyed.

Referring to the UN data, the UN official underscored that 1.1 million people in Gaza are facing catastrophic levels of hunger, while “the rest of the population is also facing acute food shortages.”

READ: The Elders call for suspension of arms transfers to Israel to end Gaza atrocities

He continued: “Not enough humanitarian aid and relief is getting in. That’s really because Israel is not fulfilling its international obligation to facilitate the rapid entry of aid into Gaza.”

“The aid is there. It is at the borders, it’s on the trucks. But Israel is just not letting it get in. They have communicated their position and their route to Israel. Israel knew about that. It gave them permission to move. And yet, Israel targeted their vehicle and killed them,” he said.

Saul added Israel is persistently refusing to implement the binding provisional measures of the International Court of Justice, and a binding Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire during Ramadan.

He also cited the rulings by the International Court of Justice on 28 March, which required Israel to do more to prevent famine as “proof” that the “International Court does not believe that Israel has been respecting its obligations.”

He highlighted that “many war crimes have been committed”, citing “disproportionate attacks causing excessive casualties where Israel does not sufficiently differentiate between civilians and military targets.”

The official called on countries to take more serious measures against Israel, including suspending military transfers and arms aid, and potentially implementing diplomatic, financial and economic sanctions, “so that Israel gets the message what it is doing is unacceptable under international law.”

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip since a 7 October cross-border attack by the Palestinian group, Hamas, which killed around 1,200 people.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

At least 32,975 Palestinians have since been killed and 75,577 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85 per cent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

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