UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Trk said on Sunday that “the horrendous events of the past 48 hours in Gaza beggar belief.”
“The killing of so many people at schools turned shelters, hundreds fleeing for their lives from Al-Shifa Hospital, amid the continuing displacement of hundreds of thousands in southern Gaza, are actions that fly in the face of the basic protections civilians must be afforded under international law,” Trk said in a statement.
Trk added that images purportedly taken in the aftermath of the Israeli strike on Al Fakhoura school are horrifying, clearly showing large numbers of women, children, and men severely wounded or killed. At least three other schools hosting displaced Palestinians have also been attacked in the past 48 hours.
He noted that “Israeli military operations have been continuing inside and around Al Shifa Hospital. UN colleagues visited the site yesterday and witnessed first-hand what they described as a ‘death zone’.”
“Medical personnel, patients, and civi
lians have fled the hospital, ordered to do so by the Israeli military. Hundreds were seen making their way south on foot, at great risk to their lives, health, and safety. And to where? Nowhere is safe in Gaza,” the UN official explained.
Trk added, “In Khan Younis, the Israeli Forces are dropping leaflets demanding residents go to unspecified “recognized shelters”, even as strikes take place across Gaza. Already displaced Palestinians – deprived by extreme restrictions on life-saving assistance – are struggling to meet their basic needs, forced into ever-diminishing, over-crowded, unsanitary unsafe spaces.”
“Irrespective of warnings, Israel is obliged to protect civilians wherever they are,” he emphasized. “Rules of international humanitarian law, including the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in carrying out the attacks must be strictly adhered to.”
“Failure to adhere to these rules may constitute war crimes,” Trk said.
“The pain, dread, and fear etched on the faces of childre
n, women and men is too much to bear. How much more violence, bloodshed and misery will it take before people come to their senses? How many more civilians will be killed? This must stop,” Trk underlined.
“Humanity must come first. A ceasefire – on humanitarian and human rights grounds – is desperately needed. Now,” the UN official concluded.
Source: Jordan News Agency