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War on Gaza: Destruction of homes, infrastructure war crime – UN expert

An independent United Nations expert and special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, yesterday described the systematic bombardment of housing and civilian…

An independent United Nations expert and special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, yesterday described the systematic bombardment of housing and civilian infrastructure in Gaza as a war crime and a crime against humanity.

He said about 50 percent of all housing units had been destroyed or damaged in Israel’s month-long strikes.

“Carrying out hostilities with the knowledge that they’ll systematically destroy and damage civilian housing and infrastructure – rendering an entire city such as Gaza City uninhabitable for civilians – is a war crime.

“When such acts are directed against a civilian population, they also amount to crimes against humanity,” he said.

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Similarly, Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) denounced the widespread destruction in Gaza.

The NRC had said earlier in the day that over 220,000 housing units had been damaged across Gaza, affecting more than one million people.

“How can we ever provide the basic minimum of roofs for this long suffering people? How can anyone not support a ceasefire now?”, Egeland asked on X.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry in Gaza said at least 10,569 Palestinians, including 4,324 children, had so far been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since October 7.

In Israel, the death toll stands at more than 1,400 since Hamas’s attack.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, yesterday said the number of civilians killed in Gaza indicated something “clearly wrong” with Israel’s military operation,

“There are violations by Hamas when they have human shields. But when one looks at the number of civilians that were killed with the military operations, there is something that is clearly wrong.

“Every year, the highest number of killing of children by any of the actors in all the conflicts that we witness is the maximum in the hundreds,” Guterres said in an interview with Reuters Next in New York. “We have in a few days in Gaza seen thousands of children killed.”

Guterres said the end of Israel’s war on Gaza could provide a chance to end decades of violence and oppression.

“This is a starting point for a serious negotiation for a two-state solution. Sometimes the worst tragedies become an opportunity. The situation was completely paralyzed, nothing was moving, Palestinians were losing hope.

“Maybe – I believe in the best-case scenario – this horrible situation may create an opportunity to finally have clear movement to a solution – in my opinion a two-state solution – in which the question of Israel’s security is to be fully taken into account.”

“There must be a way for the two states to live in peace with security guaranteed,” Guterres said.

A rights group, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, warned that more than two million Palestinians were starving in Gaza and half of them were children.

It said thousands were also struggling to find “even a bite of bread” in Gaza. “People line up for hours at the very few functioning bakeries left,” the group added.

The Gaza Ministry of Interior said an Israeli air attack targeted an “inhabited home near al-Yemen al-Saeed Hospital” in the middle of the refugee camp in northern Gaza.

It also reported several injuries in a separate attack in Jabalia.

A home belonging to the Khalil family also was struck in the centre of the refugee camp, the ministry added.

Again, an Israeli raid on Bethlehem has left at least 64 Palestinians injured and led to the evacuation of an orphanage that was teargassed, the Palestine Red Crescent says.

Local journalists told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces surrounded a house with a wanted man inside, and they fired live ammunition and tear gas at residents. They also said soldiers detained the man’s family to pressure him into surrendering.

The Red Crescent said around 100 children had to be evacuated from an orphanage due to teargas inhalation.


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