Turkish UN official calls for investigation into reported sexual assaults during acts of terror by Hamas.
The UN’s High Commissioner disputed accusations of unequal treatment towards the ongoing conflict in Gaza, stating that he had received reports of sexual assault during the Hamas assault on southern Israeli communities.
He stated that it was evident and important to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation into the terrible attacks, as it is our duty to the victims. He also expressed dismay over the catastrophic events unfolding in Gaza following the Israeli Defense Forces’ response to the terror attack led by Hamas on October 7th.
Additionally, Mr. Türk pointed out that other serious investigations into human rights violations, such as the one investigating the reported mass murder of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine by Russian forces in April 2022, also took several months before being initiated.
“We have a responsibility to the victims to ensure that thorough investigations are conducted into the accusations and that justice is served,” he stated. He also mentioned that his Office had submitted a formal request to Israel in mid-October, asking for permission for a team of United Nations human rights investigators to have access and conduct their investigation.
“I have reiterated this request and I am hopeful that it will be taken into consideration,” he stated.
Mr. Türk, addressing the media in Geneva, once again urged for an end to the ongoing conflict and for influential nations to prioritize the protection of civilians in accordance with the laws of war.
The remarks were made following an announcement from his Office expressing concern over Israel’s actions targeting or affecting civilian infrastructure, citing potential violations of international humanitarian law and an increased risk of atrocity crimes.
He urged for an immediate halt to the fighting and emphasized the importance of ending the cycle of violence. He stressed that both sides understand the necessary steps to bring peace and security to the Palestinian and Israeli people. Continuing to resort to violence and revenge will only breed more animosity and extremism. The key to ending the ongoing suffering is to end the occupation and work towards a two-state solution.
Mr. Türk expressed his serious worries about the use of “dehumanizing and inciteful statements” by current and former top Israeli officials, as well as Hamas leaders. He reminded us of the destructive consequences that such language can bring.
“This behavior is not only unacceptable, but a court with proper authority may interpret these statements, given the context in which they were made, as encouragement for committing heinous acts.”
Bombings and missile attacks
According to Juliette Touma, a representative for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), this war has reached a critical turning point. In a recent online interview, she stated, “The situation is deteriorating rapidly; we are receiving urgent calls for help from our colleagues and friends.”
According to the most recent update from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there has been a significant increase in Israeli attacks on Gaza from all directions (air, land, and sea) since Monday afternoon.
According to OCHA’s emergency update, there has been a rise in rocket attacks from Palestinian armed groups into Israel.
There has been a significant conflict between Israeli and Palestinian forces, particularly in the eastern city of Gaza. Reports indicate that the Jabalia refugee camp in the north and areas east of Khan Younis in the south have been heavily impacted. To escape the violence, thousands of individuals have sought refuge in overcrowded UNRWA shelters.
“We’ve had 60,000 only (arriving) in the past few hours,” Ms. Touma said.
Since the conflict resumed on December 1st, the Gaza Ministry of Health reports a total of 1,207 Palestinian fatalities as of December 5th. The majority of those killed, 70%, were identified as children and women.
Limited aid distribution
According to the OCHA update, multiple aid trucks transporting humanitarian supplies and fuel entered Gaza from Egypt on Tuesday. However, for the third day in a row, only the Rafah governorate in Gaza received limited aid distributions.
The UN aid office reported that in the neighboring Khan Younis governorate, aid distribution was significantly affected by the ongoing conflict. Additionally, Gaza’s Middle Area faced limited access to the southern region due to restrictions imposed by Israeli forces on major roads.
OCHA reported that the week-long humanitarian pause ended last Friday, causing a halt in access to areas north of Wadi Gaza on 1 December due to renewed hostilities.
According to the UN office, there have been several recent incidents that have resulted in high numbers of fatalities, some of which occurred in residential areas. On December 4th at approximately 2:40pm, seven individuals, including two young girls, were reported to have been killed in Deir al-Balah. Additionally, on the same day at around 3:40pm, seven people were reportedly killed in Khan Yunis. On December 5th, at approximately 7:30am, 15 people were reported to have been killed in Jabalia, and at around 8:50am, 10 individuals were reportedly killed in the new camp in Nuseirat, Middle Area.
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The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has cautioned that the current conflict in Gaza will worsen the already dire hunger situation for civilians, in addition to the health crisis caused by overcrowding and poor sanitation in the enclave.
According to the statement from the WFP, the ongoing conflict has hindered the delivery of aid and poses a threat to the safety of humanitarian personnel.
According to OCHA, the recent violence in Gaza has resulted in the deaths of at least 16,248 Palestinians, with approximately 70% of the casualties being women and children, based on information from the Gazan health authority. There are also numerous individuals who are unaccounted for, potentially trapped under rubble and in need of rescue or recovery.