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UN Human Rights Chief Volker Turk. (Photo: EU2018BG Bulgarian Presidency, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The UN Human Rights Chief Volker Turk has criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza, warning that they amount to  “collective punishment.”

UN Human Rights Commissioner Volker Turk has criticized Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip, as “disproportionate” and “collective punishment.”

According to the Anadolu news agency, Turk said in an interview with the Austrian public broadcaster ORF on Monday, that the UN has become a pawn in the conflict.

He slammed Western nations for suspending funds for the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), saying the agency is indispensable for the people in Gaza, the report adds. On the situation of civilians in Gaza he said, “I can’t really think of any more words.”

He said he was “alarmed and dismayed” by the Israeli announcement to extend the war against Hamas to Rafah in southern Gaza.

Insufficient Humanitarian Aid

Meanwhile, 1.4 million Palestinians have sought refuge from the Israeli attacks in the town on the border with Egypt. According to Turk, Anadolu reports, these people are “without sufficient food, without sufficient humanitarian support.”

Stating there was clear evidence of Israeli war crimes, he said 100,000 people were seriously affected and 27,000 dead – two thirds of them women and children, the report adds.

In addition, there are 60,000 to 70,000 injured, Turk said.

He reportedly said that the enormous destruction, half of the houses, large areas of agricultural land and the ongoing cut-off from humanitarian aid speak for “collective punishment.”

This is a violation of international humanitarian law, he said, according to the Anadolu report.

In the early hours of Monday, Israeli occupation forces embarked on an intense bombardment campaign targeting the densely overcrowded southern Gaza city of Rafah, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians, including a significant number of children and women.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported the tragic killing of more than 100 civilians, including children and women, with hundreds more wounded. The casualties were rushed to hospitals across the city.

Death Toll Increases

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 28,340 Palestinians have been killed, and 67,984 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 8,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all of the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba. 

(PC, Anadolu)

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