UN inquiry finds war crimes by both Israel, Hamas in Gaza conflict

Findings are from two reports by UN Commission of Inquiry, focusing on October 7 attacks and Israel's response

Reuters June 12, 2024
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, US, November 6, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS

A United Nations inquiry found on Wednesday that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes early in the Gaza war, and that Israel's actions also constituted crimes against humanity because of the immense civilian losses.

The findings were from two parallel reports by the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI), one focusing on the October 7 attacks and another on Israel's response.

Israel, which did not cooperate with the commission, dismissed the findings as the result of anti-Israeli bias. Hamas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The war began on October 7 when militants led by Hamas, the Islamist group ruling Gaza, killed 1,200 Israelis and took more than 250 hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's military retaliation has caused the deaths of more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health ministry, displaced most of Gaza's population of 2.3 million, caused widespread hunger, and devastated housing and infrastructure.

Negotiators from the US, Egypt and Qatar have tried for months to mediate a ceasefire and free the hostages, more than 100 of whom are believed to remain captive in Gaza.

Izzat al-Rishq, a member of Hamas' political bureau, said its formal response to a US ceasefire proposal outlined by US President Joe Biden on May 31 was "responsible, serious and positive" and "opens up a wide pathway" for an accord.

But an Israeli official said on Tuesday, on condition of anonymity, that Israel had received the answer via the mediators and that Hamas "changed all of the main and most meaningful parameters" and "rejected the proposal for a hostage release".

Major powers are intensifying efforts to halt the conflict in part to prevent it from spiralling into a wider regional war, with a dangerous flashpoint being the sharply escalating hostilities on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, backed by Iran, fired barrages of rockets at Israel on Wednesday in retaliation for an Israeli strike that killed a senior Hezbollah field commander. Israel said it had in turn attacked the launch sites from the air.

Taleb Abdallah, also known as Abu Taleb, was the most senior Hezbollah commander killed during eight months of hostilities, a security source said, and Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine vowed that group would expand its operations against Israel.


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