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The United Nations human rights chief has once again urged for an end to the ongoing violence and the release of hostages in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, with concerns over potential war crimes.
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The United Nations human rights chief has once again urged for an end to the ongoing violence and the release of hostages in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, with concerns over potential war crimes.

“According to Mr. Türk, water is in limited supply and fear is widespread in Gaza.” He shared with reporters in Amman that he had just spoken to a coworker from Gaza who had to evacuate his family due to Israeli attacks.

His nine and seven-year-old kids are posing inquiries that he is unsure how to respond to: “Why is this happening to our family? What could we have possibly done to deserve this?”

On Friday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced that over 100 of its employees have been fatally injured since the start of the Israeli bombing.

Mr. Türk made comments on Friday morning in response to new reports that a yard at the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where many displaced Palestinians were seeking shelter, was hit by bombardments.

The United Nations rights chief emphasized the need to end violence, protect humanitarian workers, and ensure safe access for delivering aid to those in need. It is also crucial to provide people with basic necessities such as food, clean water, medical care, and shelter. The release of hostages and holding perpetrators accountable under international humanitarian law is essential.

Seeking justice for those impacted by attacks carried out by Hamas.

Regarding the mass killings carried out by Hamas in southern Israel on October 7th, Mr. Türk expressed that these assaults should deeply concern and anger all of us.

He emphasized the importance of justice, accountability, and reparations for the victims of these heinous crimes.

He requested that the 240 individuals being held captive be returned to their homes and for Palestinian armed groups to stop launching rockets into Israel without discrimination.

A boy collects water in a bombed neighbourhood in Gaza.

© UNICEF/Eyad El Baba

A young boy gathers water in a war-torn neighborhood of Gaza.

Children ‘suffering terribly’

The United Nations human rights leader concluded a five-day trip to the Middle East and discussed his visit to El Arish Hospital in Rafah, Egypt. During his time there, he witnessed the plight of young children who had suffered severe injuries in Gaza.

He shared that these were the fortunate children who endured great suffering but managed to survive and are now receiving appropriate medical care. He remembered that the enclave’s health officials reported 4,400 children killed and over 26,000 injured in Gaza during the previous month, and those with disabilities were left without caregivers and trapped in the midst of bombings.

Put an end to the suffering of innocent people in Gaza.

Mr. Türk stated that the prolonged siege, which has lasted for more than a month, has caused great suffering for the people of Gaza as they struggle to obtain basic necessities and simply survive. He emphasized that all forms of collective punishment must cease.

As of now, a combined number of 821 aid trucks have been granted permission to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing from Egypt since deliveries resumed on October 21st. Before the current emergency, an average of 500 trucks per day were able to enter the region.

on Syrian village

Request for inquiry into assaults on community in Syria

On Friday, the UN’s OCHA office, responsible for coordinating humanitarian efforts, reported that hundreds of thousands of people in northern Gaza are unable to receive aid. This statement is in line with previous remarks from the UN human rights chief, who stated that the intense bombing by Israel has destroyed tens of thousands of buildings in densely populated areas using powerful and destructive weapons.

He stated that Israel needs to stop using these tactics and weapons in war and that the assaults must be looked into.

‘Nowhere is safe’

The United Nations’ human rights leader emphasized that all civilians must be shielded according to international regulations, but at present, there is no safe place in Gaza and the safety zones designated by the Israeli Defense Forces raise concerns about actual security assurances.

On Thursday, reacting to an announcement by the United States announced that Israel had agreed to halt military operations in northern Gaza to allow daily four-hour humanitarian pauses, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said that any plans for short-term pauses in the fighting in Gaza must be carried out in coordination with the UN and following agreement by all sides.

At least 101 UN staffers killed in Gaza

In the span of one month, UNRWA has officially confirmed that 101 employees of the UN’s Palestine refugee agency have lost their lives.

The agency’s director, Philippe Lazzarini, expressed that those who are deeply affected by the current situation include parents, teachers, nurses, doctors, and support staff. In a recent tweet, he stated that UNRWA, Palestinians, and Israelis are all grieving and that a humanitarian ceasefire must be implemented to put an end to this tragedy.

According to Juliette Touma, the head of communications for UNRWA, it is probable that there are numerous staff members and their loved ones who have been trapped under the increasing debris in Gaza.

Abide by the rules of war

Mr. Türk emphasized the severity of the attacks on hospitals and nearby areas in Gaza City, stating that international humanitarian law grants medical units special protection and mandates their safeguarding and proper treatment at all times.

According to the speaker, if Palestinian armed groups use civilians and civilian objects as protection during attacks, it goes against the laws of war. However, this does not excuse Israel from its duty to protect civilians by following the principles of distinguishing between military targets and civilians, taking necessary precautions during attacks, and maintaining proportionality.

The United Nations human rights chief expressed his deep concern over the situation faced by UN employees in Gaza, stating that the number of UNRWA colleagues who have lost their lives is unprecedented and highly distressing.

Mr. Türk expressed his disapproval of the situation where over 600 displaced individuals seeking shelter have been harmed or killed in schools managed by UNRWA. He emphasized the importance of upholding the principle of protecting UN facilities.

Put an end to the continuous pattern of violence in the West Bank.

In regards to the West Bank under occupation, Mr. Türk urged the Israeli government to guarantee the safety of Palestinians who are subjected to daily mistreatment such as violence, arrests, evictions, and harassment from Israeli forces and settlers.

According to Mr. Türk, approximately 200 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank prior to October 7th, and an additional 176 have been killed since then. He stated that settler violence is causing harm to people’s lives and livelihoods, leading to displacement with no consequences for the perpetrators.

Mr. Türk advised the Israeli government to follow through with the suggestions made in his Office’s “various reports on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” that have been released over time. He also urged them to take seriously the demands for “thorough investigations and responsibility” in order to break the pattern of violence and retribution against entire communities.

He stated that in cases where local authorities are unwilling or incapable of conducting investigations, and where there is disagreement over important events, an impartial and global investigation is necessary.

Step up

The High Commissioner, Mr. Türk, has not yet been allowed to enter Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territory during his trip to the area. However, he did have phone conversations with human rights advocates from both sides.

According to Palestinian human rights activists, the international community has not fulfilled its duty to uphold international humanitarian law and use its power to stop the unacceptable harm being inflicted on innocent civilians during this chaotic situation.

The United Nations’ human rights leader strongly implored the global community to fulfill its obligations, emphasizing the importance of implementing universal principles “in all circumstances worldwide”.

“He urged influential Member States to increase their efforts in order to facilitate a ceasefire between the parties, without any further delay.”

At 3pm in New York, we will provide comprehensive coverage of the upcoming Security Council meeting, during which ambassadors will address the crisis in Israel and Palestine as well as the growing number of casualties in Gaza.

There will be additional updates to come.