UN Finds Both Israel and Hamas Committed War Crimes

An independent international commission has found evidence of crimes against humanity in Gaza and Israel

An independent investigation by a United Nations-backed commission has concluded that Israeli authorities committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza since October 7. The probe also determined that Palestinian armed groups were responsible for war crimes committed in Israel.

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, established by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), released its report on Wednesday. The UNHRC described the document as the UN’s first in-depth investigation of the events that took place on and since October 7, 2023, when Hamas launched a surprise cross-border attack on Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostage. West Jerusalem responded with retaliatory strikes on Gaza.

According to the UNHRC, the report was based on interviews with victims and witnesses, open-source items verified through advanced forensic analysis, submissions, satellite imagery, and forensic medical reports.

The commission found that Israeli authorities were “responsible for the war crimes of starvation as a method of warfare, murder or wilful killing, intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, forcible transfer, sexual violence, torture and inhuman or cruel treatment, arbitrary detention, and outrages upon personal dignity.”

The report also found that some statements made by Israeli officials had “amounted to incitement and may constitute other serious international crimes.”

In relation to the October 7 attack on Israel, the report found that the military wing of Hamas and six other Palestinian armed groups had been responsible for the war crimes of intentionally targeting civilians, “murder or wilful killing, torture, inhuman or cruel treatment,” taking hostages, and other crimes.

“It is imperative that all those who have committed crimes be held accountable,” said the chair of the commission, Navi Pillay. “The only way to stop the recurring cycles of violence… is to ensure strict adherence to international law.”

The commission urged Israel to “immediately stop” its military operations in Gaza, including the assault on the city of Rafah. It also demanded that Palestinian armed groups immediately cease rocket attacks and release all Israeli hostages.

The council noted that the Jewish state had obstructed the commission’s investigations. In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday, the Mission of Israel to the UN in Geneva dismissed the report as “biased” and accused the UN-backed commission of “systematic anti-Israeli discrimination.” The mission condemned what it described as attempts to “draw a false equivalence between IDF soldiers and Hamas terrorists.”

The death toll from the eight-month offensive by Israel in Gaza has surpassed 37,000 people, according to the health ministry in the enclave.