UN urges international probe into Israel-Hamas war violations

November 16, 2023 10:17 pm | Updated 10:17 pm IST - Geneva

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk. File

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk. File | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The UN human rights chief on Thursday decried allegations of serious rights violations in the Israel-Hamas war and suggested an international investigation was needed.

Volker Turk said "extremely serious allegations of multiple and profound breaches of international humanitarian law, whoever commits them, demand rigorous investigation and full accountability".

Mr. Turk was speaking after a visit last week to the Middle East, where he warned that both sides were committing war crimes in the deadly conflict.

"Where national authorities prove unwilling or unable to carry out such investigations, and where there are contested narratives on particularly significant incidents, international investigation is called for," he said in a briefing to UN member states in Geneva.

It was vital, he told reporters later, for his office to access the Palestinian territories "to ensure full and independent monitoring and documentation and to coordinate the protection work".

He said he had "asked Israel to give me access both to Israel, but also to the occupied Palestinian territory. I have not yet received a response".

Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas in retaliation for the attacks of October 7, which killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians.

Hamas also took around 240 people hostage, among them elderly people and young children.

Israel's relentless bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza has killed more than 11,500 people, also mainly civilians and including thousands of children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

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