UN experts say Israeli operation in Jenin may amount to ‘war crime’

July 6, 2023
2 mins read
Image: Alahed News

UN experts have stated that the Israeli air strikes and ground operations in the occupied West Bank, which specifically targeted the Jenin refugee camp, may prima facie qualify as a ‘war crime.’ Arab states have also issued a strong condemnation and criticized Israel’s military offensive that have resulted in the death of at least 12 Palestinians.

The 22-member Arab League said the Israeli actions in Jenin “tantamount to a war crime,” and added that its actions “undermine the endeavors and attempts devoted to reviving peace.”

“Israeli forces’ operations in the occupied West Bank, killing and seriously injuring the occupied population, destroying their homes and infrastructure, and arbitrarily displacing thousands, amount to egregious violations of international law and standards on the use of force and may constitute a war crime,” the UN experts said in a statement.

Highlighting to multiple reports about ambulances being prevented from accessing Jenin Refugee Camp to evacuate the wounded, hampering their access to medical assistance, the experts said that the attacks were the fiercest in the West Bank since the destruction of the Jenin camp in 2002.

Around 4,000 Palestinians have reportedly fled the Jenin refugee camp following the deadly air strikes. “It is heart-breaking to see thousands of Palestinian refugees originally displaced since 1947-1949, forced to march out of the camp in abject fear at the dead of night,” the UN rapporteurs stressed.

Palestinians leaving Jenin refugee camp. Image: Yubanet

?Israel announced on July 5 that it had completed a two-day military operation in the Jenin refugee camp with the objective of eliminating armed militants. This incursion into the occupied West Bank, which included airstrikes, marked the most extensive military action conducted by Israel in over 15 years.

Denouncing so-called “counter terrorism” operations by Israeli forces, the UN experts said the attacks found no justification under international law, adding that the military offensive constitute collective punishment of the Palestinian population, who have been labelled a “collective security threat” in the eyes of Israeli authorities.

The group also expressed grave concern about military weaponry and tactics deployed by Israel’s occupation forces at least twice over the last two weeks against Jenin’s population.

“The Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are protected persons under international law, guaranteed of all human rights including the presumption of innocence,” the experts said. “They cannot be treated as a collective security threat by the occupying Power, all the more while it advances the annexation of occupied Palestinian land, and displacement and dispossession of its Palestinian residents.”   

It was also emphasized that Israel’s operations in Jenin were amplifications of the structural violence that has permeated the occupied Palestinian territory for decades. “The impunity that Israel has enjoyed for its acts of violence over decades, only fuel and intensify the recurring cycle of violence,” the statement noted.

The UN experts called for Israel to be held accountable under international law for its illegal occupation and violent acts to perpetuate it.

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry also warned of “the catastrophic consequences of the Israeli aggression, stressing the need for the international community to move immediately and effectively to stop the aggression and provide protection for the Palestinian people”, while Egypt’s said that it “condemns the Israeli attack on Jenin, and we demand the intervention of international parties to stop the violations and provide protection for the Palestinian people.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called out Israel for “war crimes” in Jenin refugee camp, stressing that Tel Aviv’s actions were encouraged by global silence and without any care for the consequences.

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