UN Accuses Israel of War Crime in Gaza ‘Buffer Zone’
The United Nations has condemned Israel’s actions along the Gaza border, labeling them as a war crime. According to Volker Turk, the UN’s rights chief, Israel’s efforts to create a “buffer zone” by demolishing buildings within a kilometer of the border fence violate international humanitarian law.
Creating a “buffer zone” along the Gaza border by destroying all buildings is a war crime, the UN rights chief said Thursday.
Volker Turk pointed to reports that Israeli military is working inside Gaza Strip to destroy all buildings within a kilometer of the border fence with Israel in order to create a “buffer zone.”
According to him, Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits occupying powers from destroying private property unless the destruction is deemed absolutely necessary by military operations.
Turk warned that creating a buffer zone for general security purposes was inconsistent with the narrow military operations exception in international humanitarian law.
Such “extensive destruction of property, carried out without justification and unlawfully and wantonly, constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to official Israeli figures cited by AFP.
As a result of Israel’s relentless air strikes and ground offensive, at least 27,840 people, mostly women, children and adolescents, have been killed, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.
According to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the (Israeli military) has destroyed and demolished large quantities of civilian and other infrastructure since October.
He mentioned “residential buildings, schools, and universities in areas where fighting has ceased or is not taking place.”
In recent weeks, numerous residential buildings have reportedly been demolished in Khan Younis in the south as well as Beit Hanoun and Gaza City in the north of the besieged Palestinian territory.
“Israel has not provided compelling reasons for such extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure,” Turk said.
“Destroying homes and other essential civilian infrastructure also exacerbates displacement of communities that lived in these areas prior to the escalation of hostilities,” he warned.
He said they appeared “to be aimed at or (to have) the effect of preventing civilians from returning to these areas.”
The authorities should be reminded that forcible transfers of civilians may constitute war crimes.