UN Experts Outraged by Israeli Strikes on Civilians in Rafah Camps

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UN Experts Outraged by Israeli Strikes on Civilians in Rafah Camps

UN experts demanded an independent international investigation into the attacks on the Rafah displacement camps.

Israeli air strikes on a camp sheltering displaced civilians in Tal al-Sultan in Rafah, that have reportedly claimed at least 46 lives including 23 women, children and older persons on May 26 night are an outrage, UN experts said on May 29, demanding decisive international action to end the bloodshed in Gaza.

“Harrowing images of destruction, displacement and death have emerged from Rafah, including infants torn apart and people burnt alive,” the experts said. “Reports emerging from the ground indicate that the strikes were indiscriminate and disproportionate, with people trapped inside burning plastic tents, leading to a horrific casualty toll.”

“These barbaric attacks are a flagrant violation of international law. They are also an attack on human decency and our collective humanity,” the experts said.

At least 46 Palestinians were reportedly killed in an Israeli air strike in Rafah’s Tal al-Sultan on the night of Sunday May 26, 2024, with hundreds more treated for severe burns. On May 28, another attack in al-Mawasi in Western Rafah reportedly killed 21 Palestinians, of whom 13 were women.

“Recklessly targeting sites known to shelter displaced Palestinians, including women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons, seeking refuge constitutes a grave breach of the laws of war and a grim reminder of the urgent need for international action and accountability,” they said.

“Even if Israeli leaders claim now that the strikes were a ‘mistake’, they bear international legal responsibility. Calling it a mistake will not make the strikes legal, bring back those killed in Rafah or give comfort to grieving survivors,” the UN experts said.

They recalled that the attack came soon after a landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which ordered Israel to immediately halt the military offensive, and any other action in Rafah that may result in genocidal acts. Israel had flagrantly disregarded this directive in the May 26 attack, the experts said.

“ICJ orders like the one issued on 24 May 2024 to Israel are binding. And Israel – which has enjoyed impunity for its crimes against the Palestinian people for decades, and for its brutal assault on the people of Gaza over the past eight months – must comply,” the experts said.

They demanded an independent international investigation into the attacks on the Rafah displacement camps. “Those responsible for these atrocities must be held to account,” the experts said.

They called for immediate sanctions and other measures by the international community to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

“The flow of arms into Israel must stop immediately. It is abundantly clear that these weapons are being used to brutally kill and maim Palestinian civilians,” the UN experts said.

They demanded unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza and an end to the blockade and restrictions on the delivery of life-saving aid to civilians in the besieged enclave.

“A staggering five per cent of Gaza’s population has been killed or injured, more than 70 per cent of homes destroyed, and more than 75 per cent displaced. The agony of Gaza’s people must end,” they said.

The experts expressed deep frustration at the international community’s failure to come together and stop Israel’s brutal assault, which has endangered Palestinians and Israeli hostages alike.

“This cannot be tolerated,” the experts said. “An immediate and permanent ceasefire, coupled with meaningful measures to document and ensure accountability for atrocities, and secure the fundamental rights of Palestinians in Gaza, are the only path forward to salvage our shared humanity.”

Courtesy: UN Human Rights Office

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