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UN experts condemn outrageous disregard for Palestinian civilians during Israel’s military operation in Nuseirat

14 June 2024

GENEVA (14 June 2024) – UN human rights experts* today strongly condemned the umpteenth massacre by Israeli forces in Gaza during a hostage rescue operation in Nuseirat Refugee Camp, which killed at least 274 Palestinians, including 64 children and 57 women, and injured nearly 700.

On 8 June, Israeli Occupation Forces – allegedly assisted by foreign soldiers – entered Nuseirat disguised as displaced persons and aid workers in a humanitarian truck. They violently raided the area, assaulting residents with intense ground and air attacks that spread terror, death and despair.

“According to survivors, the streets of Nuseirat were filled with bodies of dead and injured people, including children and women, lying in pools of blood. Walls were covered in body parts scattered by multiple explosions and bombed houses,” the experts said.

With Gaza’s health sector decimated, the injured taken to hospitals had to wait for medical treatment on the floors, they said.

“While we are relieved by the safe return of four Israeli hostages captured by Palestinian armed groups eight months ago, Israel’s attack on the Nuseirat camp is obnoxious in its excessive violence and devastating impact,” the experts said.

They particularly condemned Israeli forces for treacherously hiding in a humanitarian aid truck coming from the US-built pier, which was intended to facilitate humanitarian assistance. “Acquiring civilian disguise to conduct a military operation constitutes perfidy, which is strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law and tantamount to a war crime,” the experts said.

“These tactics put aid workers and the delivery of much needed humanitarian aid at even greater risk and expose an unprecedented level of savagery in Israeli military actions,” they said.

The World Food Program has already announced the pause of its operations from the pier due to “security concerns.”

"The dramatically high death toll among Palestinians affected by the rescue operation confirms Israel’s blatant disregard for Palestinian life," the experts said. "Under international law, all civilian life must be equally valued and protected and no life is worth more than another."

The experts noted that Israel had an opportunity to free the hostages without further bloodshed eight months ago, when the first ceasefire deal was presented. Instead, Israel has systematically rejected ceasefire proposals, preferring to continue its assault on Gaza, which has even taken the lives of Israeli hostages. All the while, Israel has claimed to be engaging in military operations to save them,” they said. “Using the pretext of seeking to rescue hostages to justify excessive use of force exposes Israel’s criminal actions, including through humanitarian camouflage, and tells us they have reached a whole new level,” the experts said.

“The military operation in Nuseirat stands out as one of the most heinous acts in Israel’s destructive assault against the Palestinian people since 7 October, which has killed over 36,000 Palestinians, injured over 80,000 and displaced and starved 2 million people in Gaza, while violence against Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem also continues unabated,” they said.

The experts noted that the UN Security Council Resolution 2735 is a way out of the horror, reiterating their call for an arms embargo against Israel to end the violence against Palestinians by Israeli forces and settlers.

“While the hour is already late, we hope this Resolution will pave the way for durable peace for the Palestinian people and freedom for hostages being held by Palestinian armed groups and for the thousands of Palestinian hostages arbitrarily detained by Israel,” they said.

Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; George Katrougalos, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Paula Gaviria Betancur, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Laura Nyirinkindi (Vice-Chair), Claudia Flores, Ivana Krstić, and Haina Lu, Working group on discrimination against women and girls; Dominique Day, Bina D’Costa, Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; Ms Ashwini K.P. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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