The Israeli air strikes and ground operations in the occupied West Bank targeting the Jenin Refugee camp and killing at least 12 Palestinians may prima facie constitute a war crime, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 Francesca Albanese said.
The Israeli occupation forces launched a two-day air and ground offensive on Jenin city and its camp, leaving 12 dead, including five children, and 140 wounded, including 30 in critical condition.
“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,” Albanese said.
“The attacks were the fiercest in the West Bank since the destruction of the Jenin camp in 2002,” the UN expert added.
She pointed to multiple reports about ambulances being prevented from accessing Jenin Refugee Camp to evacuate the wounded, hampering their access to medical assistance.
“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,” she noted.
She further expressed grave concern about the 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 all human rights, including the presumption of innocence,” the UN expert 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 the displacement and dispossession of its Palestinian residents.”
“The impunity that Israel has enjoyed for its acts of violence over decades, only fuels and intensifies the recurring cycle of violence,” she said.
The UN expert called for Israel to be held accountable under international law for its illegal occupation and violent acts to perpetuate it.
Such Israeli aggression requires that human rights and international organisations take effective measures to hold those responsible for these violations to justice, provide protection to the civilians, and provide the necessary support to the affected families.