Press Release

UN Human Rights oPt: Alarming impacts of intensification of IDF operation in North Gaza

24 May 2024

While Israeli Defense Force (IDF) military operations intensify in Rafah, attacks by the IDF in North Gaza have increased, resulting in further displacement, killing and maiming of Palestinian civilians who were already extremely vulnerable from seven months of conflict and prolonged lack of access to essential goods and services, including food, water, shelter and health care.

On 11 May, the IDF issued an evacuation order to residents of areas in Jabalya and Beit Lahiya to move to locations west of Gaza City. This was followed by intense air strikes, shelling and ground operations, especially in and around Jabalya Camp. Evacuation orders were reissued on 14, 15 and 18 May, covering specific areas of Beit Lahiya. By 20 May, approximately 100,000 people were reportedly displaced from these areas – many being forced to locations where there is little or no shelter and limited access to basic services. Despite the issuance of evacuation orders to the civilian population, IDF air strikes and shelling continued in the area, exposing civilians to serious risk.

The IDF operations have not spared the few remaining hospitals in the North Gaza that had managed to retain some limited functions, despite being subjected to intense attacks and raids in November and December 2023 and only a few weeks after Al Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City was completely destroyed.  Three main hospitals in North Gaza – Al Awda, Indonesia and Kamal Adwan Hospitals – were included in the evacuation orders issued by the IDF on 11 and 15 May. Kamal Adwan Hospital and its vicinity have come under intense airstrikes and shelling. The IDF raided Al Awda Hospital on 22 May after a four-day siege during which it was subjected to shelling and shooting. Since 22 May, all three hospitals have become inaccessible, and remaining staff are struggling to maintain service. 

Hospitals and ambulances enjoy special protection under International Humanitarian Law. They must not be used for military purposes and must not be objects of attack. The IDF must cease all attacks on or in the vicinity of hospitals and must ensure that their protected status is respected. Furthermore, the IDF must ensure that hospitals are able to receive essential medical equipment and medicines, and that civilian access to them is unhindered.

Ongoing military operations in North Gaza also reportedly killed three journalists in Jabalya in the span of less than 10 days. Although the IDF has not made a statement on any of these specific killings, on 18 May the IDF described Palestinian journalists in Gaza as “Hamas mouthpieces,” raising concerns that they may have been directly targeted. Since 7 October at least 135 journalists have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. Journalists along with the rest of the civilian population are protected under International Humanitarian Law and deliberately targeting them may constitute a war crime.

While intense destruction and killings continue in North Gaza, IDF military operations continue to impact other parts of the Strip, including Gaza City, Middle Gaza and southern Gaza. With the intensification of IDF’s ground incursion into Rafah, over 800,000 people have been displaced, many of them multiple times, to locations where there is little shelter or infrastructure and limited or no access to life saving humanitarian assistance.

There is no safe place in Gaza. IDF must take immediate steps to protect civilians, particularly the most vulnerable, and facilitate their access to essential humanitarian assistance commensurate with their needs.

OHCHR calls on all parties to the conflict to immediately implement a ceasefire.


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