UN Warns: Possible War Crimes by Israel and Hamas in Hostage Rescue


The United Nations has alerted that Israeli forces might have committed war crimes during last weekend’s hostage rescue mission, while Hamas could also be culpable for the location where the hostages were held.

In a daring raid in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza, Israeli forces rescued four hostages, though the resulting death toll is contentious. Gaza health officials, controlled by Hamas, reported more than 270 deaths, whereas the Israel Defense Forces stated the total was “less than 100.”

“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,” said Jeremy Laurence, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Hundreds of Palestinians, many of them civilians, were reportedly killed and injured. The manner in which the raid was conducted in such a densely populated area seriously calls into question whether the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution — as set out under the laws of war — were respected by the Israeli forces.”

Laurence also expressed distress over Palestinian armed groups holding hostages, emphasizing most of these hostages are civilians, which violates international humanitarian law. “By holding hostages in such densely populated areas, the armed groups doing so are putting the lives of Palestinian civilians, as well as the hostages themselves, at added risk from the hostilities,” he added.

The mission was meticulously planned over weeks, but a firefight ensued between Israeli forces and militants with civilians nearby. Almog Meir Jan, 22, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41, were held on the third floor of a building, while Noa Argamani, 26, was held on the first floor of a nearby building. The guards with the three male hostages were not caught off guard during the bold daytime operation.

“Immediately, it became a war zone,” said Amir Avivi, a reservist brigadier general and former deputy commander of the IDF’s Gaza division who was briefed on the operation, according to the Washington Post.

The rescue operation news was met with widespread celebration in Israel. Approximately 250 Israeli hostages were kidnapped during the Oct. 7 attack, with about 120 still held in Gaza Strip.

Hamas has not released any hostages since the conclusion of a weeklong ceasefire in late November, during which about 100 were freed. Since then, efforts by U.S., Egyptian, and Qatari mediators have failed to secure a second agreement between Israel and Hamas.

The United States, U.N. Security Council, and several other Western governments have expressed support for the current ceasefire proposal. Israel has agreed to the deal, and the world is awaiting Hamas’s response.

If agreed upon, the deal would unfold in three phases. The first phase would include a cessation of fighting, the return of female Israeli hostages, the release of likely thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli detention, increased humanitarian aid, and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas of Gaza.

The details of the second phase would be negotiated during the first phase, set to last six weeks, with an extension possible if negotiations for the second phase are not agreed upon by the end of the cessation period. The second phase would involve the release of the remaining living hostages and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

Israeli leaders maintain their objective to ensure the military defeat of Hamas and its removal from power in Gaza, while Hamas seeks a permanent ceasefire to retain its power. It is unclear how the proposal would reconcile these differences, though the Biden administration concurs with Israel that Hamas should not remain in power post-war.

On Monday, the U.N. Security Council approved a U.S.-drafted resolution supporting the ceasefire proposal.

Mike Brest
Mike Brest
Defense Reporter. Prior to joining the defense beat, he spent two years covering breaking news, and he worked at the Daily Caller in a similar capacity before that. Mike graduated from American University and is originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia.

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