Gaza civilian killings during Israel’s freeing of hostages could be war crimes, Darfur too ,UN says

The UN human rights office said on Tuesday the killings of civilians in Gaza during the Israeli operation to release four hostages, and also armed groups’ holding of captives in densely populated areas, could amount to war crimes.

Israel said the operation, accompanied by an air assault, took place on Saturday in the heart of a residential neighborhood in central Gaza’s Nuseirat area where Hamas had kept the hostages in two separate apartment blocks.
The operation killed more than 270 Palestinians, according to Gazan health officials.
“The manner in which the raid was conducted in such a densely populated area seriously calls into question whether the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution — as set out under the laws of war — were respected by the Israeli forces,” Jeremy Laurence, spokesperson for the UN human rights office, said.
Laurence added that the holding of hostages in such densely populated areas by armed groups was “putting the lives of Palestinian civilians, as well as the hostages themselves, at added risk from the hostilities.”
“All these actions, by both parties, may amount to war crimes,” he said.
The conflict in Gaza was triggered when Hamas fighters charged into Israel on Oct. 7 and killed some 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s subsequent bombardment and invasion of Gaza has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave.
Gunmen took around 250 hostages back to Gaza on Oct. 7, more than 100 of whom were released in exchange for about 240 Palestinians held in Israeli jails during a week-long truce in November.
There are 116 hostages left in the coastal enclave, according to Israeli tallies, including at least 40 whom Israeli authorities have declared dead in absentia.
The International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Tuesday voiced serious concern about violence raging in Sudan’s Darfur, urging witnesses to send his office evidence to aid their investigation.
War has raged for more than a year between the regular military under army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
The city of El-Fasher in North Darfur has seen fierce fighting since May 10, with at least 192 killed and more than 1,200 wounded, according to medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
“I am extremely concerned about allegations of widespread international crimes being committed in El-Fasher and its surrounding areas,” prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement.
Evidence already collected “seems to show credible, repeated, expanding, continuous allegations of attacks against the civilian population,” said Khan.
El-Fasher is the only state capital in the vast western region not under RSF control, and a key humanitarian hub for a region on the brink of famine.
The city’s last operating hospital has been closed due to paramilitary attacks, MSF announced on Monday, saying it was “outrageous” that RSF fighters opened fire inside the hospital.
Khan said there was also evidence apparently showing “the widespread, prevalent use of rape and other forms of sexual violence” and attacks against hospitals.
“It is an outrage that we are allowing history to repeat itself once again in Darfur,” said the prosecutor.
“We cannot and we must not allow Darfur to become the world’s forgotten atrocity, once again,” added Khan.
The war across Sudan has killed tens of thousands of people, including up to 15,000 in a single West Darfur town, UN experts say.
Nearly nine million people have been forced from their homes.
Both sides have been accused of war crimes including deliberately targeting civilians, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas and blocking humanitarian aid.
Rights groups and the United States have also accused the paramilitaries of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
“We ask that you send any relevant information to us on our dedicated, secure platform, OTP Link,” said Khan.

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