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Updated Jun 12, 2024, 10:41am EDT
Middle East
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Semafor Signals

UN says Israel, Hamas have committed war crimes

Insights from The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Al Jazeera

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Men walk among debris, aftermath of Israeli strikes at the area, where Israeli hostages were rescued on Saturday, as Palestinian death toll rises to 274, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, June 9, 2024. REUTERS/Abed Khaled
Abed Khaled/Reuters
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The News

A United Nations inquiry found that both Israel and Hamas have committed war crimes since the latter’s Oct. 7 attacks and the ensuing war in Gaza, covering a period up to the end of 2023.

The findings from two parallel reports said both sides had committed war crimes during the ongoing conflict including torture, murder, and inhuman treatment. Israel had additionally carried out crimes against humanity in Gaza, including starvation, the inquiry found.

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The UN report raises “troubling questions” and suggests both the Israeli government and Hamas’ leadership “hold the lives of [Palestinians and Israelis] in contempt,” Uri Weltmann, an organizer with the Israeli-Palestinian peace advocacy movement, Standing Together, told Semafor.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Israel’s ‘collective punishment’ of Gaza is not new

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The Washington Post

Israel has often blamed civilian deaths in Gaza on Hamas. One Israeli defense spokesperson told media this weekend that “every civilian life lost in this war is a result of how Hamas has operated,” The Washington Post noted. But legal analysts and international watchdogs have increasingly found evidence that Israel is carrying out war crimes — and it is presently facing a genocide trial in the UN’s top court. “The desire for collective punishment on the residents of Gaza, where Hamas has held sway for more than a decade and a half, existed in Israel well before Oct. 7,” the Post’s Ishaan Tharoor wrote.

Hamas leader disregards civilian casualties

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The Wall Street Journal

Much like Israel has blamed civilian deaths on Hamas, the militant group’s chief, Yahya Sinwar, has shown disregard for Gazans caught in the war’s crossfire, The Wall Street Journal reported. In one message to Hamas representatives in Doha, Sinwar likened the thousands of Palestinian casualties to “necessary sacrifices,” according to messages reviewed by the Journal. Sinwar “has stuck to a simple playbook. Backed into a corner, he looks to violence for a way out. The current fight in Gaza is no exception,” the paper noted.

Civilian deaths seen as ‘collateral damage’

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Al Jazeera

In an operation to rescue four hostages from Gaza on June 9, Israeli troops killed at least 274 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health authorities. The high death toll of the operation has prompted condemnation around the world. As Al Jazeera columnist Belén Fernández argued: “Israel’s perpetual ‘bloodbath’ in Gaza would seem to confirm that, as per Israeli military logic, 200-plus dead Palestinians is perfectly acceptable ‘collateral damage’ in the recuperation of four live Israelis.”

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