UN rights chief urges probe into use of ‘high-impact’ weapons by Israel

Published November 11, 2023
This picture taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip on November 10, 2023, shows smoke rising above buildings during an Israeli strike on the northern part of the Palestinian enclave. — AFP
This picture taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip on November 10, 2023, shows smoke rising above buildings during an Israeli strike on the northern part of the Palestinian enclave. — AFP

AMMAN: The UN human rights chief on Friday called for an investigation into Israel’s use of “high-impact explosive weapons” in Gaza, which he said was causing indiscriminate destruction in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Israel must end its use of such weapons in the densely populated area, home to 2.3 million Palestinians, half of whom have been displaced in the last month.

Turk did not specify what weapons he was referring to.

Asked for comment, Israel’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva said: “Israel abides by international humanitarian law at all times. Terrorists don’t.” It added the Hamas has embedded itself in densely populated areas and was preventing civilians from leaving.

“The extensive Israeli bombardment of Gaza, including the use of high-impact explosive weapons in densely populated areas … is clearly having a devastating humanitarian and human rights impact,” Turk told a news conference during a visit to Jordan’s capital Amman.

“The attacks must be investigated … We have very serious concerns that these amount to disproportionate attacks in breach of international humanitarian law.”

“Any use by Palestinian armed groups of civilians and civilian objects to shield themselves from attack is in contravention of the laws of war,” Turk said. “But such conduct by Palestinian armed groups does not absolve Israel of its obligation to ensure that civilians are spared”, he added.

Turk also said Israel must take immediate meas­ures to protect Pales­tinians in the occupied West Bank, where violence is escalating between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Turk said at least 176 Palestinians, including 43 children and one woman, had been killed in incidents involving Israeli security forces since the beginning of October. At least eight Palestinians had been killed by Israeli settlers.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2023

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