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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

UN human rights chief calls for international investigation into Gaza mass graves, deplores the "harrowing killings of children and women in Rafah"


Bodies being exhumed outside of the Nasser Hospital -- image via the Palestinian People's Party


In a statement on April 23, United Nations’ human rights chief, Volker Türk, called for an international investigation into mass graves discovered at two Gaza hospitals while also deploring the "harrowing killings of children and women in Rafah".


The UN press release noted that on 19 April, an apartment building was hit in the Tal Al Sultan area in Rafah, killing nine Palestinians, including six children and two women. Another strike on two adjacent houses in At Tanour area in eastern Rafah on 20 April reportedly killed 20 Palestinians – 15 children and five women. A strike on As Shabora Camp in Rafah on the same day reportedly left four dead, including a girl and a pregnant woman.


“The latest images of a premature child taken from the womb of her dying mother, of the adjacent two houses where 15 children and five women were killed - this is beyond warfare”, he said.


“Every 10 minutes a child is killed or wounded. They are protected under the laws of war, and yet they are ones who are disproportionately paying the ultimate price in this war,” said Türk.


Türk expressed horror at the reports of mass graves containing hundreds of bodies after Palestinian civil defense teams began exhuming bodies from outside the Nasser and al-Shifa hospital complexes after Israeli troops withdrew. Some of the deceased were allegedly older people, women, and wounded, including some bound and stripped of their clothes. This indicates serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, which need to be subjected to further investigation he said


“Given the prevailing climate of impunity, this should include international investigators,” he added. “Hospitals are entitled to very special protection under international humanitarian law. And the intentional killing of civilians, detainees, and others who are hors de combat is a war crime.”


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