OHCHR / GAZA ISRAEL HEAVY BOMBS

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The UN Human Rights Office published an assessment on six emblematic attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza last year that led to high numbers of civilian fatalities and widespread destruction of civilian objects, raising serious concerns under the laws of war concerning the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack. OHCHR / UNTV CH
Description

STORY: OHCHR / GAZA ISRAEL HEAVY BOMBS
TRT: 03:47
SOURCE: OHCHR / UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: PLEASE CREDIT OHCHR FOOTAGE ON SCREEN
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS
DATELINE: 19 JUNE 2024, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / 17 JUNE 2024, GAZA

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Shotlist

19 JUNE 2024, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, exterior, Palais des Nations
2. Med shot, briefing room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The report details six emblematic attacks involving the suspected use of GBU-31 (2,000 lbs), GBU-32 (1,000 lbs), and GBU-39 (250 lbs) bombs from 9 October to 2 December 2023 on residential buildings, a school, refugee camps, and a market.”
4. Various stills, UN Human Rights Report on use of heavy weapons
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Such bombs are mostly used to penetrate through several floors of concrete and can completely collapse tall structures.”
6. Various stills, UN Human Rights Report on use of heavy weapons
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The report concludes that the series of Israeli strikes, exemplified by the six incidents, indicates that the IDF may have repeatedly violated fundamental principles of the laws of war. In this connection, it notes that unlawful targeting when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, in line with a State or organizational policy, may also implicate the commission of crimes against humanity.”

17 JUNE 2024, GAZA - PLEASE CREDIT OHCHR ON SCREEN

8. Travelling shot, destruction

19 JUNE 2024, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

9. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Israel's choices of methods and means of conducting hostilities in Gaza since 7 October, including through the extensive use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in densely populated areas, have failed to ensure that they effectively distinguish between civilians and fighters.”

17 JUNE 2024, GAZA - PLEASE CREDIT OHCHR ON SCREEN

10. Travelling shot, person fetching water

19 JUNE 2024, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

11. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“At around the time of these attacks an IDF spokesperson was reported to have said that ‘while balancing accuracy with the scope of damage, right now we’re focused on what causes maximum damage’. Another IDF official was quoted as saying ’Hamas and the residents of Gaza’ are ‘human beasts’ and ‘are dealt with accordingly. Israel has imposed a total blockade on Gaza. No electricity and no water, just damage. You wanted hell, you will get hell.’”
12. Med shot, briefing room
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Ajith Sunghay, Head of office in OPT, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“So, it became very clear to us that the nature of weapons that were used, especially on a wide area, that have a wide area effect, is extremely dangerous in the context of Gaza. And we have been saying this, in several reports and statements that Gaza is a very densely populated area. And in these six incidents, we had sufficient information to demonstrate, the civilian casualties, both in terms of the deaths as well as, injuries, and where we felt that the principles of international humanitarian law, particularly precaution, distinction, proportionality, were not necessarily followed.”

17 JUNE 2024, GAZA - PLEASE CREDIT OHCHR ON SCREEN

14. Travelling shot, destruction

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Storyline

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) published an assessment today (19 Jun) on six emblematic attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza last year that led to high numbers of civilian fatalities and widespread destruction of civilian objects, raising serious concerns under the laws of war concerning the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack.

“The report details six emblematic attacks involving the suspected use of GBU-31 (2,000 lbs), GBU-32 (1,000 lbs) and GBU-39 (250 lbs) bombs from 9 October to 2 December 2023 on residential buildings, a school, refugee camps and a market,” UN Human Rights spokesperson Jeremy Laurence said.

“Such bombs are mostly used to penetrate through several floors of concrete and can completely collapse tall structures.”

Given how densely populated the areas targeted were, the use of an explosive weapon with such wide area effects is highly likely to amount to a prohibited indiscriminate attack, the report finds.

The effects of such weapons in these areas cannot be limited as required by international law, resulting in military objects, civilians, and civilian objects being struck without distinction, the report states.

“The report concludes that the series of Israeli strikes, exemplified by the six incidents, indicates that the IDF may have repeatedly violated fundamental principles of the laws of war. In this connection, it notes that unlawful targeting when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, in line with a State or organizational policy, may also implicate the commission of crimes against humanity,” Laurence said.

“Israel's choices of methods and means of conducting hostilities in Gaza since 7 October, including through the extensive use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in densely populated areas, have failed to ensure that they effectively distinguish between civilians and fighters,” he said.

On 11 November 2023, the IDF stated that since the start of their operation into Gaza, the Air Force had “struck over 5,000 targets to eliminate threats in real time”.

By that time the Ministry of Health in Gaza had documented the killing of 11,078 Palestinians, with another 2,700 missing and about 27,490 reportedly injured.

“At around the time of these attacks an IDF spokesperson was reported to have said that “while balancing accuracy with the scope of damage, right now we’re focused on what causes maximum damage.”

Another IDF official was quoted as saying “Hamas and the residents of Gaza” are “human beasts” and “are dealt with accordingly. Israel has imposed a total blockade on Gaza. No electricity and no water, just damage. You wanted hell, you will get hell,” the spokesperson said.

While the focus of the report is on Israel, it also highlights that Palestinian armed groups have continued to fire indiscriminate projectiles toward Israel, inconsistent with their obligations under international humanitarian law.

The report also stresses the obligation to protect civilians and civilian objects by avoiding locating military objectives in or near densely populated areas.

“In one of the six emblematic Israeli attacks on Gaza, the report states that strikes on Ash Shujaiyeh neighbourhood, Gaza City, on 2 December 2023 caused destruction across an approximate diagonal span of 130 metres, destroying 15 buildings and damaging at least 14 others. The extent of the damage and the craters visible through verified visual evidence and satellite imagery indicates that approximately nine GBU-31s were used, it added. The UN Human Rights Office received information that at least 60 people were killed,”

Ajith Sunghay, the Head of the OPT office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, added: “So it became very clear to us that the nature of weapons that were used, especially on wide area, that have wide area effect, is extremely dangerous in the context of Gaza. And we have been saying this, in several reports and statements that Gaza is a is a very densely populated area. And in these six incidents, we had sufficient information to demonstrate, the civilian casualties, both in terms of the death as well as, injuries and where we felt that the principles of international humanitarian law, particularly precaution, distinction, proportionality, were not necessarily followed.”

In three of the strikes, the IDF asserted it had targeted individuals connected to the attacks on Israel on 7 and 8 October 2023.

As the report sets out, however, the mere presence of one commander, or even several fighters, or of several distinct military objectives in one area, does not turn an entire neighbourhood into a military objective, as this would violate the principle of proportionality and the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks.

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