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Israel and Hamas' actions in Nuseirat refugee camp raid ‘may amount to war crimes,’ UN says

THE UN human rights office is citing possible war crimes by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in connection with Israel’s bloody raid that freed four hostages over the weekend and slaughtered hundreds of Palestinians.

Office spokesman Jeremy Laurence expressed concerns about possible violations of rules of proportionality, distinction and precaution by the Israeli forces in Saturday’s raid at the urban Nuseirat refugee camp.

Palestinian health officials say at least 274 Palestinians, including dozens of women and children, were killed in the operation.

Mr Laurence said that Palestinian armed groups who are holding hostages in densely populated areas are putting the lives of nearby civilians and the hostages at “added risks” from the hostilities.

“All these actions by both parties may amount to war crimes,” he told a regular UN briefing in Geneva.

“It was catastrophic, the way that this was carried out in that civilians — again — were caught smack bang in the middle of this,” Mr Laurence said.

Alluding to the “ordeal” faced by hostages and their families, he said: “The fact that four hostages are now free is clearly very good news. These hostages should never have been taken in the first place. That’s a breach of international humanitarian law. They must be freed. All of them. Promptly.”

Israel launched its latest brutal bombardment of Gaza after Hamas’s October 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

Israel’s supposed war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 36,730 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Palestinians are facing widespread hunger because the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies. UN agencies say that over a million in Gaza could experience the highest level of starvation by mid-July.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Hamas to accept the UN security council resolution in favour of a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release agreement.

“Everyone’s vote is in, except for one vote, and that’s Hamas,” Mr Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv after meeting with Israeli officials.

Hamas welcomed US President Joe Biden’s initial announcement of the plan as well as the UN resolution endorsing it but has yet to submit its official response.

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