Israeli raids in Jenin may be a war crime, UN experts say

At least 4,000 Palestinians have fled from their homes over the past two days

Palestinians clash with Israeli forces during a military operation in the Jenin refugee camp. AFP
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Israeli military operations in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank may constitute a war crime, UN human rights experts said.

At least 12 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed during a two-day operation that began on Monday. Israeli forces used bulldozers to tear up streets in Jenin, forcing thousands to flee the camp, usually home to about 18,000 people.

On Wednesday, Israel's military announced that it had withdrawn from Jenin.

“Israeli forces’ operations in the occupied West Bank, killing and seriously injuring the occupied population, destroying their homes and infrastructure, and arbitrarily displacing thousands, amount to egregious violations of international law and standards on the use of force and may constitute a war crime,” the experts said.

The experts, known as “special rapporteurs”, report their findings to the UN but operate independently as they monitor rights abuses around the world.

They condemned the “counter-terrorism” operations carried out by Israeli forces in Jenin, emphasising that the attacks had “no justification under international law”.

“The Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are protected persons under international law, guaranteed of all human rights including the presumption of innocence,” the experts said. “They cannot be treated as a collective security threat by the occupying power.”

Jenin conflict – in pictures

The UN experts called for an end to Israel's “illegal occupation”, stating that it cannot be rectified or improved marginally, as it fundamentally goes against the principles of justice and legality.

The UN experts noted that this week's operation was the “fiercest” in the West Bank since the destruction of the Jenin camp in 2002.

Israel said the operation was aimed at rooting out armed Palestinians after dozens of shooting attacks on Israelis over the past year.

According to the UN, at least 4,000 Palestinians have fled their homes over the past two days.

On Wednesday, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported that nearly 80 per cent of homes in Jenin's refugee camp were “either destroyed, damaged or burnt” in the Israeli operation.

The city's mayor, Nidal Al Obeidi, said that almost one third of the camp's residents had fled the area during the operation.

Updated: July 06, 2023, 5:37 AM