A new report by a United Nations-backed independent commission has placed the onus of war crimes and crimes against humanity squarely on Israeli authorities, citing a series of deadly attacks in the Gaza Strip. The report meticulously details a range of Israeli military operations from 9 October to 2 December, highlighting the use of 2,000-pound bombs on densely populated civilian areas, including residential buildings, schools, refugee camps, and marketplaces.

The UN commission verified 218 deaths resulting from these attacks, though it acknowledged that the actual number of fatalities could be significantly higher. Among the most harrowing incidents was the destruction in the Ash Shujaiyeh neighbourhood, where nine 2,000-pound GBU-31 bombs caused the deaths of 60 individuals. The commission identified six key attacks during this period that violated international war laws.

Navi Pillay, leading the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, stated on Wednesday that Israel has committed rimes against humanity, forced starvation, extermination, murder, and inhuman and cruel treatment of Palestinians.

Delivered the report to the UN Human Rights Council, Pillay stated that the Israeli military in Gaza had “forcibly transferred almost the entire population into a small enclosure that is unsafe and uninhabitable” and employed heavy weaponry in densely populated zones as “an intentional and direct attack on the civilian population.”

Pillay said that the commission found that certain types of sexual and gender-based violence were integrated into the operational procedures of the Israeli forces.

“Although Israeli officials have repeatedly stated their operations in Gaza are intended to destroy Hamas and release hostages, yet neither of these aims has been largely achieved at the expense of thousands of lives,” she told the Human Rights Council.

“We found that Israeli forces committed sexual and gender-based violence with the intent to humiliate and further subordinate the Palestinian community. Palestinian women were targeted and subjected to sexual violence and harassment online and in person.

“Men and boys experienced specific persecutory acts, including sexual and gender-based violence amounting to torture and inhuman and cruel treatment.”

Israel’s war on Gaza has wrought immense human suffering. Since 7 October, Israel has killed at least 37,396 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured 85,523 others in Gaza.

Gaza officials have called for the release of 310 healthcare workers who have reportedly been subjected to torture. They have urged for an international investigation into the fate of kidnapped Palestinian health personnel, seeking justice and accountability for the victims.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has supported the UN commission’s findings, highlighting six Israeli attacks from 9 October to December that exemplify a concerning pattern.

The UN inquiry’s findings have painted a grim picture, accusing the Israeli military of attempting to exterminate Palestinians. The inquiry has also pointed to war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas, with Israeli actions being deemed responsible for crimes against humanity and significant civilian casualties.