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Israel is responsible in the Gaza Strip for crimes against humanity, notably for “extermination”, a UN commission of inquiry said on Wednesday, also accusing the Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups of war crimes since the October 7.

“Crimes against humanity of extermination, murder, gender-based persecution targeting Palestinian men and boys, forcible transfer, acts of torture and inhumane and cruel treatment were committed” by Israel , concludes in a report this commission, created in May 2021 by the Human Rights Council.

The Israeli embassy in Geneva immediately accused the commission of “systematic discrimination” against it.

The commission of inquiry “has proven once again that its actions are all in the service of a political agenda focused against Israel”, denounced the Israeli ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Meirav Shahar, in a communicated.

Unlike genocide, crimes against humanity do not necessarily have to target a particular population group but can target any civilian population, according to the UN. However, they must be committed as part of large-scale attacks, unlike war crimes which can be isolated acts.

According to UN investigators, the Israeli authorities and “the military wing of Hamas and six other Palestinian armed groups” are “responsible” for “war crimes”.

“It is imperative that all those who committed crimes are held accountable,” said the commission’s chair, South African Navi Pillay, in a statement.

“The only way to put an end to the recurring cycles of violence, including aggression and reprisals on the part of both parties, is to guarantee strict respect for international law,” added the former High Commissioner for Rights. of Man, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The commission, established after the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in May 2021, has the mandate to investigate alleged human rights violations committed since this year in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Israel. there and to study all the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

She accuses the Israeli authorities of “hindering” her investigations and denying her access to Israel and the occupied territories. The report is based on interviews with victims, conducted remotely and during a mission to Turkey and Egypt, and documents including forensic reports and satellite images.

– “Patterns of sexual violence” –
“Israel must immediately cease its military operations and attacks in Gaza, including the assault on Rafah,” Pillay demanded. “Hamas and Palestinian armed groups must immediately stop their rocket fire and release all hostages. Hostage-taking constitutes a war crime.”

The commission “attempts to justify the heinous terrorist attack of October 7 by contextualizing it through the prism of the Palestinian narrative. It does not mention the + terrorism + which has lasted for decades, nor the incessant rocket attacks on Israeli territory”, the Israeli embassy said.

The war, triggered by the attack by the Palestinian movement Hamas on October 7 on Israeli soil, led to the death of 1,194 people on the Israeli side, the majority civilians killed on October 7, according to an AFP count carried out from official Israeli figures. Of the 251 people taken as hostages on October 7, 116, of whom 41 died, are still in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli army.

In this territory, more than 37,100 Palestinians, the majority civilians, have since been killed by bombings and Israeli military operations on land, according to data from the Hamas government's Ministry of Health.

Concerning October 7, the commission accuses Palestinian armed groups of committing various war crimes, including attacks on civilians, murder and torture.

She also identified “sexual violence” which particularly targeted Israeli women, and concluded that these were not isolated incidents.

Concerning the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, the commission affirms that the Israeli authorities are “responsible for war crimes”: use of starvation as a method of war, attacks intentionally directed against civilians, sexual violence, torture and forced transfers .

In the West Bank, the commission says Israeli forces “committed acts of sexual violence, torture, inhumane or cruel treatment, and outrages upon personal dignity, all of which constitute war crimes.” On sexual violence, Israel denounces a false equivalence.

The commission says the Israeli government and forces “permitted, encouraged and incited a campaign of settler violence.”

The report also emphasizes that statements by Israeli officials – “including those reflecting the policy of inflicting widespread destruction and killing large numbers of civilians” – may constitute serious international crimes, such as incitement to genocide or discrimination and violence.

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