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War on Gaza: UN report accuses Israel of war crimes by targeting Palestinian civilians

Meanwhile, Israel continues its onslaught on Rafah and targets displacement camp, and Hezbollah's Nasrallah says group prepared for war
Smoke rises following an Israeli bombing on the Gaza Strip, as seen from Israel on 20 May 2024 (Reuters/Amir Cohen)
Smoke rises following an Israeli bombing on the Gaza Strip, as seen from Israel on 20 May 2024 (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Israeli forces may have violated the laws of war in their campaign in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Wednesday.

In a report that assessed six Israeli attacks that caused a high number of casualties and the destruction of civilian infrastructure, the OHCHR said that Israeli forces "may have systematically violated the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack".

"The requirement to select means and methods of warfare that avoid or at the very least minimise to every extent civilian harm appears to have been consistently violated in Israel's bombing campaign," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk.

Meanwhile, overnight Wednesday, Israeli fighter jets bombed makeshift tents in Rafah's al-Mawasi area, previously designated by the military as a “humanitarian zone”, killing at least seven Palestinians and wounding others, according to local media.

The tents, located north-west of Rafah, were set ablaze, in what the Palestinian news agency Wafa described as a “massacre”. 

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Israeli forces also bombed tents near Khan Younis in southern Gaza and homes in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, Wafa added.

Additionally, Al Jazeera Arabic reported a strike on a home in Gaza City that killed six people, including women and children.

The strikes come as the US confirms it has continued to send weapons to Israel, save for the one shipment of 2,000-pound bombs it is currently reviewing.

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The clarification was made after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a video criticising Joe Biden's administration, claiming it was withholding military aid to Israel.

Quoting two US officials, Axios reported that the White House cancelled a high-level US-Israel meeting on Iran that was scheduled for Thursday after Netanyahu’s outburst.

“This decision makes it clear that there are consequences for pulling such stunts,” one US official said.

Biden’s top advisers were reportedly “enraged” by the video, a message special aide Amos Hochstein personally delivered to Netanyahu, according to American and Israeli sources.

“The Americans are fuming. Bibi's video made a lot of damage,” a senior Israeli official told the outlet.

While two American sources said the meeting was cancelled to send a message over the video, a third one said it was only postponed due to scheduling issues.

Nasrallah warns Israel and Cyprus

Elsewhere on Wednesday, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, delivered a televised speech saying his group has improved its arsenal by obtaining new weapons and developing existing ones. He also declared that his party has built its own drones, and increased its fighters to more than 100,000 men.

Commenting on the footage released Tuesday by Hezbollah, taken by a surveillance drone over the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Nasrallah said the drone flew for "long hours" in Israeli airspace.

The nine-minute video pinpointed several locations, including military sites and civilian infrastructure.

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“[The enemy] knows there will be no place in the Zionist entity spared from our rockets and drones,” the Lebanese leader said.

“He knows we have a real, entire list of targets and we have the capacity to reach these targets.”

Nasrallah added that Hezbollah was ready for any war his country was forced to engage in. 

“We repeat today, if war is imposed on Lebanon, the resistance will fight without rules, restraint or limits.”

Nasrallah also issued warnings to Cyprus for the first time over reports that Israel uses the island for preparations for battles in Lebanon.

“The Cypriot government must be careful. Opening Cypriot airports and bases for the Israeli enemy to target Lebanon means that the Cypriot government has become part of the war and the resistance will deal with it as part of the war," Nasrallah said.

He added that the solution to the current conflict is ending the war on Gaza. The current hostilities, he added, will "change the history of the region".

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