The Special Rapporteurs of the United Nation's Human Rights Council have expressed "outrage" over the current humanitarian conditions in Gaza.
Last week, Israel ordered the 1.1 million Palestinians living in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate south, signalling an impending ground invasion. As Gaza is already one of the world’s most densely populated areas — with more than 2 million people living within 140 square miles — the UN previously described the order as “impossible" without "devastating humanitarian consequences."
The Special Procedures, which is the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, said in a statement Thursday that such orders will amount to genocidal conditions against the Palestinian people if they continue unabated.
“The complete siege of Gaza coupled with unfeasible evacuation orders and forcible population transfers, is a violation of international humanitarian and criminal law. It is also unspeakably cruel," the experts said.
Israel has cut off Palestinian civilians' access to water, food, fuel, and electricity, which is prohibited under international law. The IDF has also admitted to dropping 6,000 bombs on the Gaza Strip during the first six days of war — more than the U.S. dropped in any given month while combating ISIS.
Devastation in Gaza
In their statement, the Special Rapporteurs also decried the recent bombing of a hospital in Gaza, which killed nearly 500 civilians earlier this week. While Israel has denied responsibility for the explosion, the experts noted that there were several Israeli airstrikes the same day that struck refugee camps and a school.
“The strike against Al Ahli Arab Hospital is an atrocity. We are equally outraged by the deadly strike on the same day on an UNRWA school located in Al Maghazi refugee camp that sheltered some 4000 displaced people, as well as two densely populated refugee camps," they stated.
The World Health Organization (WHO) documented more than 136 attacks on health care services in Palestinian territory, including 59 attacks on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the deaths of at least 16 health workers so far. Israeli bombardment on Gaza has also killed 15 staff of the United Nations Refugee Works Agency (UNRWA) and four Palestine Red Crescent paramedics in an ambulance.
Israel vowed "mighty revenge" on Hamas after the group launched deadly surprise attacks against Israeli civilians on Oct. 7. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a post online that has since been deleted likened Palestinians to "children of darkness," claiming to fight against the "law of the jungle."
The experts said that the rhetoric from Israeli officials calling for violence and dehumanizing Palestinian people, coupled with little push back from other world powers, signals an escalation in violence that has overwhelmingly impacted civilians.
“We are sounding the alarm: There is an ongoing campaign by Israel resulting in crimes against humanity in Gaza," they stated. "Considering statements made by Israeli political leaders and their allies, accompanied by military action in Gaza and escalation of arrests and killing in the West Bank, there is also a risk of genocide against the Palestine people."
“There are no justifications or exceptions for such crimes. We are appalled by the inaction of the international community in the face of belligerent war-mongering," they added.
In order to end the conflict, the experts called for an immediate cease-fire and "unimpeded access to essential humanitarian supplies." Most importantly, they said that Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people must end in order to find a solution for the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
“The Gazan population, half of whom are children, have already suffered many decades of unlawful brutal occupation and lived under the blockade for 16 years," they said. "The occupation needs to end and there must be reparation, restitution and reconstruction, towards full justice for Palestinians."
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