UN experts call for Gaza war crimes investigation

UN experts Nov. 27 called for prompt, transparent and independent investigations into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the Gaza Strip, since Israel's new military offensive began last month. "Independent investigators must be given the necessary resources, support and access required to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into crimes allegedly committed by all parties to the conflict," the experts said, calling on Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the de facto authorities in Gaza to cooperate fully with investigations.

"The duty to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity, including any act of summary or extrajudicial killing, torture or other outrages on human dignity, is a fundamental legal obligation," they said.

They also called for the Hamas attacks on Israel that prompted the current Israeli campaign in Gaza to be included in the scope of investigations.

The experts urged the international community to ensure that all those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, especially persons with command responsibility, are promptly brought to justice. "There is no statute of limitation for such crimes, and they fall under universal jurisdiction, which means that courts in any country can exercise their authority to prosecute those responsible, regardless of their nationality and the country where the crimes were committed," they said. "We encourage all States to play a proactive role in identifying key suspected perpetrators and helping to facilitate prosecutions through the principle of mutual legal assistance."

For international standards in such investigations, the experts referred to the Revised Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Crimes of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Istanbul Protocol) and the Revised United Nations Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions (Minnesota Protocol).

They noted ongoing investigations by the International Criminal Court and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and offered the support of their mandates and expertise, including in forensic sciences, to advise and assist in these efforts.

The experts include Morris Tidball-Binz, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Alice Jill Edwards, special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. (OCHR)

As accusations of war crimes and even genocide mount against Israel, it continues to reject the authority of the International Criminal Court.

Humanitarian pause extended by day despite Jerusalem attack

The Israel police reported Nov. 30 that two gunmen shot and killed three civilians and injured 16 at a bus stop in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on the attack asserting Hamas was responsible, saying, "We will continue this war until we achieve the three goals: Freeing all of our hostages, completely eliminating Hamas and ensuring that no threat like this will ever come from Gaza again."

Nonetheless, Israel and Hamas agreed to extend the "humanitarian pause" by one additional day. Netanyahu stated that because specific women and children hostages were freed, the pause would continue for another day. (Jurist)

Israel resumes Gaza bombardment

Israel renewed its assault on the Gaza Strip Dec. 1 after the end of a week-long truce with Hamas, which saw the release of more than 100 hostages held in Gaza and 240 Palestinian detainees held by Israel. In the last hour of that deal, Israel said Hamas fired rockets toward its territory from Gaza, (NBC)

Gaza authorities on Nov. 25 said the death toll of Palestinians in the enclave now exceeds 15,000, in addition to thousands of others still missing under the rubble. In a statement, the Gaza-based Government Media Office said the death toll includes 6,150 children and 4,000 women. It added that there are also some 7,000 missing people under the rubble, including 4,700 children and women. (AA)

UN condemns resumption of Gaza conflict

The UN condemned the resumption of conflict in Gaza on Dec. 1, following the end of a temporary ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, and called for a return to negotiations for a long-lasting ceasefire. The temporary ceasefire ended that morning after several extensions.

A UN press release reported that the bombing in Gaza resumed "seconds" after the ceasefire concluded. Additionally, the release noted that the Gaza hospital system has been "crippled" since the start of the conflict on Oct. 7. Secretary-General António Guterres stated, "I deeply regret that military operations have started again in Gaza. I still hope that it will be possible to renew the pause that was established. The return to hostilities only shows how important it is to have a true humanitarian ceasefire." (Jurist)

Israeli troops shot dead civilian at scene of Jerusalem attack

Off-duty Israeli soldiers who killed two Palestinian gunmen near Jerusalem on Nov. 29 also shot dead an Israeli civilian at the scene, according to a report by Haaretz. The Palestinian attackers killed three Israelis and wounded several others in a shooting at a bus station.

The gunmen, two brothers from the Tzur Baher neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, were shot dead after the soldiers and a civilian fired at them. Yuval Doron Kastelman, 38, the Israeli civilian who fired, was later himself shot dead by uniformed Israeli soliders. 

In a video shared on social media, Kastelman is seen raising his hands and pleading with Israeli troops not to fire on him, but he is shot in the stomach and falls to the ground. (TNAMEE, INS)

Israel arrests more Palestinians in West Bank raids

Israeli forces rounded up 60 Palestinians in military raids in the occupied West Bank Dec. 4. A joint statement by the Commission of Detainees Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner Society said most of the arrests took place in Hebron and Bethlehem.

"The arrests were marked by abuse, brutal beatings, threats against detainees and their families, along with acts of sabotage and destruction in the homes of citizens," the statement said.

The Israeli army has since detained more than 3,540 Palestinians in the West Bank since Oct. 7, according to Palestinian figures.

Before the outbreak of the Gaza conflict, the number of Palestinian detainees by Israel was estimated at around 5,200, including more than 1,000 held under "administrative detention," without charge or trial. (AA)

US sanctions (some) West Bank settlers

In a rare move, the United States said Dec. 5 that it will impose a travel ban on Israeli settlers who have been involved in a sharp rise in violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. Belgium also announced a similar measure. Since the Hamas-led attack into Israel on Oct. 7, violence by the Israeli military and settlers—already a fixture of life in the West Bank—has increased dramatically, according to human rights groups. (TNH)