UN Officials Claim Possible 'War Crimes' in Hostage Raid

Israeli soldiers were disguised as refugees looking for a place to live: ABC
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2024 7:27 AM CDT
UN Officials Claim Possible 'War Crimes' in Hostage Raid
Palestinians look at the aftermath of the Israeli bombing in Nuseirat refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Saturday, June 8, 2024.   (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

The special operation that freed four Israeli hostages from a neighborhood in Gaza on Saturday began with Israeli forces disguised as Palestinian refugees, ABC News reports. The soldiers claimed to be looking for a place to live when they entered the buildings where hostages were being held in Nuseirat, sources tell the outlet. UN human rights officials have said the actions by Israel and Hamas "may amount to war crimes." The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said the military operation, now dubbed "Operation Arnon" to honor a slain security officer, killed 274 people, including 64 children and 57 women, which would make Saturday the deadliest day of the war. Another 698 were injured, the ministry said.

"The manner in which the raid was conducted in such a densely populated area seriously calls into question whether the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution—as set out under the laws of war—were respected by the Israeli forces," the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a Tuesday statement, noting most of those killed and injured were Palestinian civilians, per ABC. However, the OHCHR also said it was "deeply distressed" that Hamas continues to hold civilian hostages in violation of international law. By holding hostages in densely populated areas, militants are putting civilians at risk, officials said.

An eyewitness who was shot three times recalls seeing two Israeli soldiers disguised in civilian clothes before men in military uniforms jumped out of a truck and "started shooting," per the BBC. The individuals guarding female hostage Noa Argamani were quickly killed, the outlet reports. However, a special forces team acting to free the three male hostages—Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, and Shlomi Ziv—in a location a few hundred meters from where Argamani was held "came under attack prompting the Israeli military to launch massive air strikes on crowded nearby streets as covering fire, killing scores of Palestinians." The BBC notes footage showed "bodies strewn in the street." (There's pressure on Hamas to agree to a ceasefire.)

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