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Calls to end Gaza ‘bloodbath’ after Israeli attack kills 274 Palestinians

In News, World
June 09, 2024

Several countries and international organisations have condemned the Israeli killing of at least 274 Palestinians during an operation to free four Israeli captives in central Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp.

Authorities in the Gaza Strip on Sunday said at least 698 others were injured in “an unprecedented brutal attack”, some in critical condition, as hospitals struggle to cope with the flow of wounded or dead bodies.

Reporting from inside Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza’s Deir el-Balah, Al Jazeera’s Hind Khoudary on Sunday said civil defence crews are still finding dead or wounded Palestinians from under the rubble in the aftermath of the Nuseirat attack, as more air strikes target areas across the enclave.

“The bombardment continues intensely and it is very hard for the emergency responders to reach the killed and injured Palestinians. They are telling us that there are still people on the roads and under the rubble that they could not reach,” she said.

Gaza
Palestinians including children injured after Israeli attack in Bureij refugee camp [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency]

Since October 7, Israel’s military offensive has killed at least 37,084 Palestinians and wounded 84,494 others, Gaza’s Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa said the Palestinian Authority is seeking an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council over the Nuseirat attack.

Palestinian armed group Hamas said Israel’s release of four captives “will not change the Israeli army’s strategic failure in the Gaza Strip”, especially after taking eight months to enact the operation.

It also said reports that the United States facilitated the Israeli operation prove again that Washington is “complicit and completely involved in the war crimes being perpetrated” in the besieged coastal enclave.

INTERACTIVE - Gaza Israel kills more than 270 in Nuseirat attack updated-1717931830

European Union, Norway

Josep Borrell, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, had a stronger reaction, writing in a post on X that “the bloodbath must end immediately”.

“Reports from Gaza of another massacre of civilians are appalling. We condemn this in the strongest terms,” he said.

Andreas Motzfeldt Kravik, deputy foreign minister of Norway, wrote on X that he was “appalled by reports of another massacre of civilians in Gaza” and said the country condemns attacks on civilians while calling for the release of captives and an immediate ceasefire.

OIC, Arab Parliament

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), representing 57 member states, most of whom are Muslim-majority, condemned what it called “the horrific massacre carried out by the Israeli occupation army, which resulted in the murder and injury of hundreds of Palestinians, most of them women and children”.

It called for an investigation, accountability and punishment in accordance with international law, stressing the importance of the role of the International Criminal Court in this regard.

The Cairo-based Arab Parliament denounced the “massacre perpetrated by the Israeli occupation” and held Israel and the US responsible.

Turkey

In a statement, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country “deplores” the Israeli attack, which it called “barbaric” and another in a long list of “crimes” committed by Israel in Gaza.

“We call on the institutions responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, the United Nations Security Council in particular, to exercise their responsibility to put an end to the commission of these crimes by Israel,” the statement added.

Iran

Ministry of Foreign Affairs blamed the latest killing of hundreds of Palestinians on “inaction” by world governments and the UN Security Council.

“These horrific and shocking crimes… are the result of the inaction of governments and responsible international bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, in the face of eight months of war crimes and violations by the Zionist regime [Israel],” spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in a statement.

“The butchered and bloodied bodies of Palestinian civilians and children are the result of the continued injection of American and European arms to the arsenals of the Zionist regime, and the continued support of the US and a number of European countries for the regime.”

Jordan, Egypt

The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement on X that the Israeli attack is “a practice that reflects the systematic targeting of Palestinian civilians, the Israeli persistence in violating international law and international humanitarian law, and continuing to commit war crimes”.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the Nuseirat attack “a blatant violation of all provisions of international law and international humanitarian law, as well as all values of humanity and human rights”.

“Egypt holds Israel legally and morally responsible for this flagrant assault, demanding that Israel comply with its obligations as an occupying power and cease the indiscriminate targeting of Palestinian civilians, including those in areas where they have been displaced.”

United Nations

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a post on X that “scores of Palestinian civilians” continued to be killed in Israeli attacks after the organisation this week paid tribute to a record 188 UN staff killed in Gaza.

Martin Griffiths, the UN relief chief, called the Nuseirat refugee camp “the epicentre of the seismic trauma that civilians in Gaza continue to suffer” and said all remaining captives must be released and the war ended.

Saul Takahashi, former deputy head of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Occupied Palestine and professor of human rights and peace studies at Osaka Jogakuin University, told Al Jazeera the Western response to Palestinians’ killings shows a “double standard”.

“There is a huge, huge double standard when it comes to human lives: that Israeli lives, Ukrainian lives, white skin lives are important, but when it comes to Palestinians, people with brown skins, Arabs in general, they are not just as important, we do not really care,” Takahashi said from Toyohashi in Japan.

“As your correspondent mentioned, this is hardly reported at all … the loss of Palestinians’ lives in the Israeli media. It’s pretty much the same in the US media and many other international media outlets.”

Gaza
Palestinians injured in Israeli attack on Bureij refugee camp at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, Gaza [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency]

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, said the release of the captives should not have come at the cost of more than 200 Palestinian lives, with foreign soldiers “perfidiously hiding in an aid truck”.

“Israel could have freed all hostages, alive and intact, eight months ago when the first ceasefire and hostage exchange was put on the table,” she wrote on X, adding that the fact that Israel kept killing Palestinians while refusing a deal lays bare Israel’s “genocidal intent turned into action”.

“Countries that celebrate the release of four Israeli hostages without saying a word about the hundreds of Palestinians killed and thousands held in arbitrary detention by Israel, have lost moral credibility for generations and don’t deserve to be on any UN human rights body,” wrote Balakrishnan Rajagopal, another UN special rapporteur.

Other international organisations

Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF, which has teams operating in Al-Aqsa Hospital where most of the casualties were taken on Saturday, described a “nightmare” at the facility running out of medicine, fuel and food.

“How many more men, women and children have to be killed before world leaders decide to put an end to this massacre?” said Samuel Johann, MSF coordinator in Gaza.

Kenneth Roth, former executive director of Human Rights Watch and visiting professor at Princeton University, told Al Jazeera that a daytime operation meant that “some of the bombs clearly fell either on or right adjacent to a market in Nuseirat which was filled with people”.

“And in those circumstances, you predictably will get larger numbers of civilian casualties than if it had been a night-time operation. That is inconsistent with the duty to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians harm.”

Israel and its allies praise operation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Nuseirat operation “will be written in history” and the Israeli military praised its commandos for a “daring” daylight operation.

Israel’s top diplomat rejected unspecified accusations of “war crimes” in the operation. “We will continue to act with determination and strength, in accordance with our right to self-defence, until all of the hostages are freed and Hamas is defeated,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said.

US President Joe Biden, who was hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris during a state visit on Saturday, welcomed the release of the captives without commenting on the mass killing of Palestinians.

“We won’t stop working until all of the hostages come home and a ceasefire is reached. It’s essential,” he said.

The US military denied that its floating pier off Gaza or any equipment, personnel or assets were used in the operation, saying “an area south of the facility was used by the Israelis”.

Macron also lauded the rescue mission and called for a permanent political solution to the war on Gaza, but did not mention the large number of civilian deaths.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the release of the captives was a “huge relief”, ignoring the unusually high death toll.

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