UN: Israeli Authorities Responsible for Crimes Against Humanity

A United Nations inquiry into the Israeli onslaught in Gaza found officials in Tel Aviv were culpable for myriad war crimes

Speaking to the UN Security Council, the head of an investigatory body probing the Gaza war found Israeli officials committed war crimes during military operations in the Strip.

Navi Pillay, chairperson of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, announced her findings to the UNSC on Wednesday, stating the commission had concluded that “Israeli authorities are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.”

She explained that those crimes include “extermination, intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, murder or willful killing using starvation as a method of War, forcible transfer, gender persecution, sexual and gender-based violence amounting to torture and cruel or inhuman treatment.”

The commission noted that Hamas has committed similar crimes throughout the latest conflict.

During the eight-month assault on Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have killed over 37,000 Palestinians and injured an estimated 85,000. Israeli bombings have also destroyed most of Gaza’s homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, and farmland. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been plunged into near-famine conditions.

Tel Aviv’s onslaught has been aided by a long list of US weapons. A separate report from the UN Human Rights Office published Wednesday documented six cases of Israel using American bombs to kill hundreds of civilians.

The report stated that US-made GBU-31 (2,000 lbs.), GBU-32 (1,000 lbs.) and GBU-39 (250 lbs.) bombs were used to strike “residential buildings, a school, refugee camps and a market” between October and December 2023. The UN rights office verified 218 deaths from those six attacks, and said it had indications the number of fatalities could be “much higher.”

Pillay explained that the independent commission determined the Israeli strikes were intentional. “We found that the immense numbers of civilian casualties in Gaza and widespread destruction of civilian objects and infrastructure were the inevitable result of an intentional strategy to cause maximum damage,” she said.

The commission found Israel’s crimes went beyond using bombs or other conventional weapons but also food, water, and dispossession as weapons of war. Tel Aviv has also forcibly transferred much of Gaza’s population into small enclosures that are “unsafe and uninhabitable.”

Pillay also noted that Tel Aviv has engaged in unprecedented violence in the occupied West Bank since October 7, but those crimes have received little attention due to the near-daily atrocities committed in Gaza.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.