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Gaza: UN High Commissioner Urges Action to Address Gaza and West Bank Crises

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Press release

Geneva – April 16, 2024


Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is calling on all influential states to take decisive action to halt the escalating human rights and humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the rising violence in the West Bank. He emphasizes that resolving the catastrophic situation for civilians in Gaza must be an immediate priority.

Türk condemned Israel’s imposition of unlawful restrictions on humanitarian assistance and the extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure. He reiterated the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire, the release of hostages, and the

unrestricted flow of humanitarian aid. Türk emphasized the critical importance of ensuring the safety of humanitarian personnel who are delivering aid.

The severity of the crisis in Gaza was underscored by Türk, noting that no area of the Strip has been spared from Israel’s bombardment. Nearly 1.7 million people are forcibly displaced, living in dire conditions under constant threat. Recent fighting in Middle Gaza alone has displaced around 10,000 people from An Nuseirat camp and Wadi Gaza. Türk also highlighted reports of attacks on mosques, with 534 mosques destroyed or damaged since October 2023.

Türk reported on specific incidents, including Israeli Defense Forces opening fire on Palestinians attempting to return home, resulting in civilian casualties—an act considered a war crime. In the West Bank, escalating violence has seen attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians, leading to casualties and widespread property destruction.

According to the UN Human Rights Office, armed settlers and Israeli forces have entered several towns, causing injuries and torching homes and buildings. Türk stressed that Israel, as the occupying power, must restore public order and protect Palestinians from settler attacks, ending the unlawful use of force by Israeli Security Forces against Palestinians.

Türk called for an immediate cessation of Israeli Security Forces’ support for settler attacks and urged Israeli authorities to prevent further violence, holding perpetrators accountable through transparent investigations that comply with international human rights standards.

In conclusion, Türk emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of law and preventing retaliatory actions, urging all parties to refrain from taking the law into their own hands. The urgency of the situation demands swift and concerted international action to protect civilians and restore peace in Gaza and the West Bank.

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