Possible War Crimes in Israeli Hostage Rescue Raid: U.N.

The U.N. human rights office has expressed concern about possible war crimes committed by both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups during a Saturday raid into Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp that rescued four Israeli hostages and killed hundreds of Palestinians.

“It was catastrophic, the way that this was carried out in that civilians—again—were caught smack bang in the middle of this,” Jeremy Laurence, a spokesperson for the U.N., told the Associated Press.

Laurence said that Israeli forces may have violated the laws of proportionality, distinction, and precaution after at least 274 Palestinians were killed in the raid, according to Palestinian health officials.

Laurence also said that Palestinian armed groups holding Israeli civilians hostage in densely populated areas are creating “added risks” to both Palestinian civilians and the hostages. “All these actions by both parties may amount to war crimes,” Laurence said.

The U.N. spokesman called for the release of all remaining hostages, return of the remains of deceased hostages, and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.

This is not the first time concerns about war crimes have been raised amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Last month, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor Karim Khan requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh for war crimes and crimes against humanity. A panel of judges is currently reviewing the request.

Read More: What ICC Arrest Warrants Would Mean for Israel and Hamas Leaders

Israel began its military campaign in Gaza following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians. The militant group also abducted approximately 250 people.

At least 36,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since October, according to the Hamas-led Gaza Ministry of Health, figures the U.S. and U.N. consider credible.

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