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UN humanitarian official says ‘we have learned nothing in the past 75 years’

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UN humanitarian official says ‘we have learned nothing in the past 75 years’

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GENEVA — A top United Nations humanitarian official on Sunday offered a grim assessment of Israel’s war against Hamas as the world marked International Human Rights Day.

In a statement, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Lynn Hastings condemned Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel but said Israel’s ongoing response in Gaza was disproportionate.

“Today could have been a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, born from the atrocities of two world wars,” Hastings said. “Instead, human rights are assaulted in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The violations perpetrated on both populations will bring neither peace nor security to either of these nations.”

Non-state armed actors like Hamas had obligations under international law, Hastings said, adding that the perpetrators of the October 7 attacks in which more than 1,400 Israelis were killed and more than 240 others taken hostage must be held accountable.

“The killings, sexual violence and kidnappings … traumatized an entire nation. Elderly, disabled, and children have not been spared,” she said.

Since October 7, Israeli forces have turned much of Gaza into a wasteland. Airstrikes have reduced entire neighborhoods to rubble and nearly 2 million people — the vast majority of Gaza’s population — have been forced to flee their homes, according to the UN.

At least 17,700 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, citing sources from the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Israel’s response “cannot be justified” Hastings said.

“The air strikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, and UN facilities and the repeated displacement of the civilian population cannot be justified. Nor can the siege, depriving the entire Gaza population of food, water, health care and hygiene,” Hastings said.

““In 2023, I should not have to issue such a statement. It is as if we have learned nothing in the past 75 years.””

Israel’s foreign minister said last week he had revoked Hastings’ visa due to the “bias of the UN.” The move came as multiple UN officials warned of an “apocalyptic” situation in Gaza for displaced civilians, who face overcrowding and the spread of disease. — Kuwait Weekly

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