Palestinian children sit next to the site of an Israeli strike on a house, in Rafah Palestinian children sit next to the site of an Israeli strike on a house, in Rafah 

UN Human Rights Chief deplores killings of children and women in Rafah

The United Nations Human Rights Chief Volker Türk has decried a series of Israeli strikes on Rafah in the past few days that have killed mostly children and women. He has repeated his warning against a full-scale incursion to an area to which 1.2 million civilians are sheltering.

By Vatican News

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk has called on world leaders to "stand united on the imperative of protecting the civilian population trapped in Rafah" where any full scale military incursion by the Israeli forces would "risk more deaths, injuries and displacement on a large scale – even further atrocity crimes, for which those responsible would be held accountable." Already in March, the UN Security Council had demanded an immediate ceasefire. 

In a statement posted on 23 April, the UN Human Rights Chief condemned “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" saying "this is beyond warfare.”

As of 22 April, according to the authorities in Gaza, of the 34,151 Palestinians killed in Gaza, 14,685 have been children and 9,670 women. Another 77,084 have been injured, and over 7,000 others are assumed to be under the rubble. Mr. Türk pointed out that “every 10 minutes a child is killed or wounded" and that "they are protected under the laws of war, and yet they are ones who are disproportionately paying the ultimate price in this war.” 

He added that 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, and he has called for independent, effective and transparent investigations into the deaths. He stated that, “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.”

The High Commissioner said the tremendous suffering caused by the fighting - alongside the resulting misery and destruction, starvation and disease, and the risk of wider conflict - must end once and for all. He has repeated his call for an immediate ceasefire, the release of hostages and those held in arbitrary detention, and the unfettered flow of humanitarian aid.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations.

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24 April 2024, 17:43