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Outrage grows as Gaza refugee camps struck by Israeli airstrikes

UN official resigns in protest over the airstrikes


New Delhi, Nov 2: The recent airstrikes on the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza have triggered widespread international outrage. Numerous humanitarian organizations and nations have vehemently denounced the substantial civilian casualties stemming from these attacks. Craig Mokhiber, who served as the director of the UN’s New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has resigned in protest against the situation.

Israeli Actions Under Scrutiny: OHCHR Sounds Alarm

The United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) expressed grave concerns over the airstrikes on the Jabalia refugee camp, which took place on Tuesday. In a tweet posted on Wednesday afternoon, the OHCHR noted that the substantial civilian deaths and injuries, coupled with the extensive destruction caused by Israeli airstrikes, raise serious questions about the proportionality of these attacks, suggesting that they could potentially constitute war crimes.

Tragedy Unfolds at Jabalia Refugee Camp

Reports from the scene indicate that at least six airstrikes struck the Jabalia refugee camp on the outskirts of Gaza City. According to the Palestinian health ministry, the strikes resulted in the deaths of 50 individuals, primarily women and children, with at least 150 others sustaining injuries. Israel claimed it had targeted a militant commander in the attack.

Further Escalation: Second Airstrike Claims More Lives

Tragically, a second airstrike on Wednesday added to the death toll, with a total of 195 Palestinians losing their lives over two days, as reported by local media.

UNICEF’s Strong Condemnation and Concern for Children

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued a statement late on Wednesday, describing the scenes emerging from the Jabalia camp as “horrific and appalling.” While the exact toll on children remains unconfirmed, the attacks have left homes destroyed and hundreds of people injured or killed, including numerous children. UNICEF emphasized that refugee camps, settlements for internally displaced individuals, and the civilians within them are all protected by international humanitarian law. The indiscriminate effects of such large-scale attacks on densely populated residential areas are deemed entirely unacceptable.

UN Secretary-General Calls for Compliance with International Humanitarian Law

The Secretary-General expressed his deep dismay over the escalating violence in Gaza, particularly the loss of Palestinian lives, including women and children, in Israeli airstrikes targeting residential areas within the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp. He reiterated the importance of all parties adhering to international humanitarian law, which includes principles such as distinction, proportionality, and precaution. He strongly condemned any civilian casualties and called for an end to the ongoing violence, and suffering, and the immediate release of hostages in Gaza, along with the provision of vital humanitarian assistance.

UNRWA Commissioner General’s Visit and Humanitarian Aid Challenges

The Commissioner General for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) visited Gaza on Wednesday, meeting with Palestinian communities and UNRWA staff serving the civilian population during this challenging period. He emphasized the urgent need for fuel and a humanitarian pause to address the crisis.

Humanitarian Aid Efforts Continue

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 59 trucks, loaded with water, food, and medicines, entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. While this marks the largest convoy since aid deliveries resumed on October 21, the critical need for fuel to operate life-saving equipment remains unmet.

Challenges for Internally Displaced Persons

Assisting approximately 300,000 internally displaced persons in shelters in Gaza City and northern Gaza is increasingly challenging due to hostilities and the limited access humanitarian workers have to those in need. The Office estimated that over 1.4 million people have been internally displaced in Gaza since the onset of the hostilities, including 689,000 individuals in around 150 UNRWA shelters, which are severely overcrowded.

International Condemnation Over Gaza Strikes

Multiple nations, including the European Union, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, along with several others, have vehemently condemned the Israeli airstrikes on the Jabalia refugee camp. The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, expressed his appalled reaction, denouncing the high casualty count.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the Israeli targeting of the Jabalia refugee camp as inhumane.

Qatar, which has been mediating efforts to secure the release of over 200 captives held by Hamas in Gaza, voiced concerns that the Israeli strikes were undermining these diplomatic initiatives.

Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned that the expansion of Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure represents a dangerous escalation that could hamper mediation and de-escalation efforts.

The United Arab Emirates called for an immediate ceasefire and stressed that indiscriminate attacks would have irreversible consequences in the region.

Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also joined in condemning the Israeli airstrikes, describing them as inhumane and resulting in significant casualties.

Jordan has recalled its ambassador from Israel in the first direct action taken by Amman since the start of the Israel-Gaza war on October 7.

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