Gaza: UN Human Rights Chief calls for end to violence

The “brutal” resumption of hostilities in Gaza and its “terrifying” impact on the civilian population underscores the need to end the violence and find a long-term political solution built on the full respect of the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk has urged.

“The suffering inflicted on civilians is too much to bear. More violence is not the answer. It will bring neither peace nor security,” Mr. Türk said in a statement in which he expressed his deep concern that negotiations on a continuation of last week’s pause had reportedly reached an impasse.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bombardments since the hostilities resumed on Friday, Mr. Türk added, citing the Gaza Ministry of Health.

No aid entered the enclave via the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Friday, and delivery on Saturday was restricted, further impacting humanitarian operations to support millions amid a scarcity of food, water, fuel and other basic essentials.

No safe place

Mr. Türk expressed grave fears that the renewed and intensified hostilities will lead to even more death, disease and destruction. “As a result of Israel’s conduct of hostilities and its orders for people to leave the north and parts of the south, hundreds of thousands are being confined into ever smaller areas in southern Gaza without proper sanitation, access to sufficient food, water and health supplies, even as bombs rain down around them,” he said, adding: “There is no safe place in Gaza.”

He emphasised that international law and human rights law uphold the protection of civilians and the facilitation of unhindered humanitarian access to people in need.

Concern for north Gaza

The UN Human Rights Commissioner also pointed out that hundreds of thousands of people remaining in northern Gaza are again under threat of bombardment and continue to be deprived of food and other essentials.

He said that this appalling situation and the order to move south is essentially forcing people to move in what appears to be an attempt to empty northern Gaza of Palestinians.

“The world bore witness of week upon week of horror since this latest crisis began, marked by extremely grave concerns around wilful killing of civilians, firing of indiscriminate rockets, indiscriminate attacks using explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas, forms of collective punishment, obstruction of humanitarian aid, and hostage-taking – all forbidden under international law,” he said.

Mr. Türk added that extremely serious allegations of multiple and grave breaches of international law must be fully investigated and those responsible held to account. In cases where national authorities prove unwilling or unable to carry out such investigations and prosecutions, international investigation is necessary.

Change course now

The Human Rights Chief called on Member States to do everything in their power to ensure all parties comply with their obligations under international law and prevent the commission of international crimes.

“The time to change course is now. Those that choose to flout international law are on notice that accountability will be served. No-one is above the law,” he said.

WHO calls for ceasefire

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also called for a ceasefire in Gaza in a post on social media on Saturday. He said that the reports of the ongoing hostilities and heavy bombardments were “petrifying”.

A WHO team had visited the Nassar Medical Hospital in southern Gaza on Friday, he added, where countless people had sought refuge and patients were being treated on the ground.

“These conditions are beyond inadequate – unimaginable for the provision of health care,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. ” I cannot find words strong enough to express our concern over what we’re witnessing. Ceasefire. NOW.”

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