‘Impunity Must End’ – Nearly 200 Aid Workers Killed in Gaza

Israel targets UNRWA-run centers despite previous coordination. (Photo: via UNRWA)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“The occupation must end. This should not just be rhetoric, but action is needed now.”

Close to 200 humanitarian workers have been killed in the Gaza Strip, including around 180 UN staff, in the six months since Israel began its bombardment of the enclave, the UN Human Rights Office has said.

“As we approach six months of hostilities, it is with deep sadness and outrage that we reflect on the devastation and death toll in Israel and Gaza,” said Jeremy Laurence, the spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Human Rights in a press briefing on Friday.

“Over 33,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, are dead, 75,000 or more are injured, and at least 7,000 are presumed dead under the rubble.”

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Laurence decried the killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers this week saying the Israeli airstrikes that killed them, “underline the horrific conditions under which humanitarian workers are operating in Gaza.”

He said, “Israel has also killed law enforcement officials and others involved in securing humanitarian aid delivery, directly contributing to the breakdown of civil order and putting humanitarian workers and those in need of aid in further danger.”

The spokesperson stressed that “international law requires all parties to respect and protect humanitarian relief personnel and ensure their safety, security, and freedom of movement.”

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‘Occupying Power’s Obligations’

“Israel, as the occupying power, has the additional obligation to ensure, to the fullest extent possible, that the basic needs of the population of Gaza are met,” the spokesperson said.

This meant that Israel must ensure the provision of food and medical care to the population commensurate with its needs, he added.

“And if it is unable to do so, it must facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations to deliver that assistance and the access of the population to it in a safe and dignified manner.”

Laurence warned that “attacking people or objects involved in humanitarian assistance may amount to a war crime,” adding that “as the High Commissioner has repeatedly stated, impunity must end.”

He further stated that the “violations of international law committed since 7 October in Israel and Gaza … as well as the destruction and suffering of civilians in Gaza over the last six months, are unprecedented. And the risk of further atrocity crimes is high.”

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Aid Vital for Survival

Laurence called for humanitarian aid “and other goods necessary for the survival of the civilian population” to be allowed “to flood into Gaza and be safely distributed to every part of the Strip.”

“Huge swathes of Gaza have been bombed into oblivion. The Gaza Strip has changed forever,” he stressed.

The spokesperson further highlighted the High Commissioner’s call for “accountability for the serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that have been perpetrated.”

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He said there has to be a “renewed resolve” for a political solution to ensure Palestinians’ rights to self-determination.

“The occupation must end. This should not just be rhetoric, but action is needed now.”

Following the attacks on the WCK convoy this week, the NGO has suspended aid delievery and distribution to the enclave, “increasing the already real risk of more deaths from famine and disease at larger scale.”

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Over 33,000 Killed

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 33,091 Palestinians have been killed, and 75,750 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in the enclave.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

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Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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