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Palestine: UN Condemns Israeli Airstrikes on Civilians in Rafah

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Press release

Geneva – June 2, 2024


UN experts have condemned Israeli airstrikes on a shelter for displaced civilians in Tal al-Sultan, Rafah, which killed at least 46 people, including 23 women, children, and elderly individuals, on Sunday night. They are calling for decisive international action to end the bloodshed in Gaza.

In a statement released by the UN Human Rights Council’s media center in Geneva, the experts said, “Harrowing images of destruction, displacement, and death have emerged from Rafah, including infants torn apart and people burnt alive. Reports from the ground indicate that the strikes were indiscriminate and

disproportionate, with people trapped inside burning plastic tents, leading to a horrific casualty toll.”

The experts described the attacks as a blatant violation of international law and an affront to human dignity and collective humanity. They stressed the need for international accountability and action to halt such violations.

In addition to the Sunday night strike in Tal al-Sultan, another attack in al-Mawasi, Western Rafah, on Tuesday reportedly killed 21 Palestinians, including 13 women. The experts emphasized that targeting sites known to shelter displaced individuals constitutes a grave breach of the laws of war.

“Even if Israeli leaders claim the strikes were a ‘mistake,’ they bear international legal responsibility. Calling it a mistake does not make the strikes legal, nor does it bring back those killed in Rafah or comfort grieving survivors,” the experts stated.

The experts noted that the attack occurred shortly after a landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which ordered Israel to halt its military offensive and any actions in Rafah that could result in genocidal acts. Israel’s disregard for this directive in Sunday night’s attack was highlighted as a serious violation.

The UN experts called for an independent international investigation into the attacks on the Rafah displacement camps and demanded that those responsible be held accountable. They urged the international community to impose immediate sanctions and other measures to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

“The flow of arms into Israel must stop immediately. These weapons are being used to brutally kill and maim Palestinian civilians,” the experts said.

They also demanded unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza and an end to the blockade and restrictions on life-saving aid to civilians in the besieged enclave.

“The agony of Gaza’s people must end,” they said, noting that five percent of Gaza’s population has been killed or injured, over 70 percent of homes destroyed, and more than 75 percent displaced.

The experts expressed deep frustration at the international community’s failure to stop Israel’s assault, which has endangered both Palestinians and Israeli hostages.

“This cannot be tolerated,” the experts said. “An immediate and permanent ceasefire, coupled with meaningful measures to ensure accountability for atrocities and secure the fundamental rights of Palestinians in Gaza, is the only path forward to salvage our shared humanity.”

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