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The UN human rights chief Volker Türk has decried the latest series of Israeli strikes on Gaza that has killed mostly women and children, warning that a ground invasion would further breach international human rights law.

Volker Turk’s remarks on Tuesday came after at least nine children among 16 Palestinians were killed on Sunday in an Israeli bombing targeting several homes east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

“The latest images of a premature child taken from the womb of her dying mother, of the adjacent two houses where 15 children and five women were killed – this is beyond warfare,” the High Commissioner said in a statement.

Turk said a full-scale ground invasion of the town would risk more deaths, injuries and displacement on a large scale – “even further atrocity crimes, for which those responsible would be held accountable.”

He said already in March, the Security Council had demanded an immediate ceasefire.

“The world’s leaders stand united on the imperative of protecting the civilian population trapped in Rafah,” Türk stated.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 34,183 Palestinians have been killed, and 77,143 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

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

Laws of War

“Every 10 minutes a child is killed or wounded. They are protected under the laws of war, and yet they are ones who are disproportionately paying the ultimate price in this war,” said Türk.

The UN chief said he was horrified by the destruction of An Nasser Medical Complex and Al Shifa Medical Complex and the reported discovery of mass graves in and around these locations.

Türk called for independent, effective and transparent investigations into the deaths.

“Given the prevailing climate of impunity, this should include international investigators,” he added. “Hospitals are entitled to very special protection under international humanitarian law. And the intentional killing of civilians, detainees, and others who are hors de combat is a war crime.”

West Bank Killings

Türk also said grave human rights violations were continuing unabated in the occupied West Bank.

Despite international condemnation of massive settler attacks from April 12 – 14, facilitated by the Israeli forces, “settler violence has continued with the support, protection, and participation” of the Israeli military.

During a 50-hour long operation into Nur Shams refugee camp and Tulkarem city starting on April 18, the Israeli military deployed ground troops, bulldozers and drones, and sealed the camp.

“Fourteen Palestinians were killed, three of them children,” the statement said.

The UN Human Rights Office “received reports that several Palestinians were unlawfully killed and that the Israeli military used unarmed Palestinians to shield their forces from attack and killed others in apparent extrajudicial executions.”

“Dozens were reportedly detained and ill-treated,” according to the Office. The Israeli military, it said, “inflicted unprecedented and apparently wanton destruction on the camp and its infrastructure.”

The Office also highlighted the killing of a 50-year-old Palestinian ambulance driver in Nablus over the weekend.

“The ambulance was evacuating two Palestinians injured by live ammunition during an attack by settlers, who were accompanied” by Israeli military forces, in As Sawiya, Nablus.

Famine and Displacement

Israel’s genocidal war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over 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.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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