| 15 April 2024, Monday |

UN experts: Israeli ground operations in Jenin may constitute war crime

UN experts said that Israeli air strikes and ground operations in the occupied West Bank targeting the Jenin Refugee camp may constitute a war crime.

“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 experts said, OHCHR reported.

“The attacks were the fiercest in the West Bank since the destruction of the Jenin camp in 2002,” the UN experts noted.

They highlighted multiple reports about ambulances being prevented from accessing Jenin Refugee Camp to evacuate the wounded, hampering their access to medical assistance.

Around 4,000 Palestinians reportedly fled the Jenin Refugee Camp overnight on Monday and Tuesday after 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 experts said.

Denouncing so-called “counter terrorism” operations by Israeli forces, the experts said the attacks found no justification under international law.

“The attacks constitute collective punishment of the Palestinian population, who have been labelled a “collective security threat” in the eyes of Israeli authorities,” they said.

They 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.”

The experts said 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,” they said, according to OHCHR.

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

“For this relentless violence to end, Israel’s illegal occupation must end. It cannot be corrected or improved in the margins, because it is wrong to the core,” they said.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat