Israel-Hamas war: Destruction to create 'buffer zone' on Gaza border a 'war crime', UN says

Acts of war that do not respect international humanitarian law

Israel-Hamas war: Destruction to create 'buffer zone' on Gaza border a 'war crime', UN says

Acts of war that do not respect international humanitarian law. The High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations (UN) estimated, Thursday February 8, that the destruction of buildings in the Gaza Strip near the Israeli border, carried out by the Israeli army Israel, constituted a “war crime.” “The destruction aimed at creating a “buffer zone” for security reasons does not meet the criteria (…) of international humanitarian law,” Volker Türk said in a statement.

“I emphasize to the Israeli authorities that Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the destruction by the occupying power of property belonging to private persons unless such destruction is made absolutely necessary by military operations,” he said.

Before continuing: “The massive destruction of buildings, which is not justified by military imperatives and which is carried out in an illegal and arbitrary manner, constitutes a serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime.”

Targeted residential buildings, schools and universities

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also said that since October his office had recorded “widespread destruction and demolition by the [Israeli] army of civilian infrastructure.” This concerns in particular “residential buildings, schools and universities in areas where fighting does not or no longer takes place”.

Such destruction has been seen in recent weeks in Beit Hanoun and Gaza City, in the north of the besieged Palestinian territory, as well as in the Nousseirat camp, and in Khan Younes, in the south.

“Israel has not provided convincing reasons to justify this massive destruction of civilian infrastructure,” Türk said. This destruction appears “to have the aim or effect of making it impossible for civilians to return to these areas.” “I remind the authorities that the forcible transfer of civilians can constitute a war crime,” he also insisted.