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UN overwhelmed at civilian toll of Israeli operation to free hostages

Messenger Online

Published: 17:06, 11 June 2024

Update: 18:02, 11 June 2024

UN overwhelmed at civilian toll of Israeli operation to free hostages

Photo: Collected

The UN voiced alarm on Tuesday (11 June ) at the civilian toll of Israel's rescue of four hostages in Gaza, and the fact that Palestinian armed groups are holding captives there.

The United Nations Rights Office said, acts committed by both Israelis and Palestinians "may amount to war crimes".

"We are profoundly shocked at the impact on civilians of the Israeli forces' operation in An Nuseirat at the weekend to secure the release of four hostages," spokesman Jeremy Laurence told reporters in Geneva.

The UN, he said, was also "deeply distressed that Palestinian armed groups continue to hold many hostages, most of them civilians".

Israeli forces stormed Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday to rescue four Israeli hostages.

Almog Meir Jan, Noa Argamani, Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv were kidnapped from the Nova festival in southern Israel on October 7.

Hamas-run Gaza's health ministry said at least 274 Palestinians were killed and 698 wounded during the operation.

"Hundreds of Palestinians, many of them civilians, were reportedly killed and injured," Laurence said.

Asked about figures provided by the Gaza health ministry, he said that prior to October 7, when there was greater possibility to check, the UN had consistently found "the numbers they provide us are... very close to being 100-percent accurate".

The UN rights office has had limited access to verify numbers since the war started but Laurence said it still had contacts on the ground "who are reliable". The Gaza war started after Hamas fighters launched an attack on Israel on October 7 which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.