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Palestine: The spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Urges Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza as Conflict Enters Sixth Month”

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Press release

Geneva – March 11, 2024


In the sixth month of a devastating conflict in Gaza, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jeremy Laurence, expressed grave concerns over the deteriorating situation. The conflict has taken a toll on the lives and homes of both Palestinians and Israelis, raising fears of an impending catastrophe. Laurence particularly highlighted the risk of Israel launching a military offensive into Rafah during the holy month of Ramadan, where 1.5 million people already live in deplorable conditions after being displaced.

The spokesperson emphasized that any ground assault on Rafah could result in massive loss of life and escalate the risk of further atrocity crimes, calling for immediate prevention of such actions. There is also apprehension regarding potential Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to East Jerusalem and Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, which could further inflame tensions in the region.

The spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reiterated the urgent need for an immediate end to the conflict, emphasizing that the killing and destruction must cease. Highlighting the plight of hostages enduring over 150 days of suffering, Laurence called for their unconditional release and reunification with their families.

Israel, as the occupying power, was urged to fully comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law. The spokesperson stressed the necessity of providing the desperate civilian population of Gaza with essential food and medical supplies. If unable to do so, Israel must ensure access to critical life-saving humanitarian assistance, in alignment with the population’s needs.

The reopening of border crossings and corridors was identified as a crucial step to enable the free and secure movement of aid convoys to all areas within the Gaza strip, preventing widespread starvation and unnecessary suffering.

Since October 7, parties involved in the conflict have shown little regard for international law protecting human rights and governing the conduct of hostilities. The spokesperson highlighted the collective responsibility to uphold the laws of war at all times and under all circumstances. Those violating these laws must be held accountable.

The spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded all States parties of their obligation under Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions to respect and ensure respect for the rules laid down by these Conventions. This obligation encompasses taking all available steps to ensure full compliance by parties in hostilities and refraining from policies or actions that may facilitate violations of humanitarian law. The urgent call for a ceasefire and adherence to international humanitarian principles stands as a crucial appeal to prevent further suffering in the region.

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