The United Nations Human Rights Office released a report on Wednesday accusing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of potentially violating the fundamental principles of the laws of war in a series of illegal indiscriminate attacks in Gaza. The report details six notable attacks on residential buildings, a school, refugee camps, and a market between October 9 and December 2, 2023, involving the suspected use of GBU-31, GBU-32, and GBU-39 bombs.

These bombs are designed to penetrate multiple floors of concrete structures and can completely destroy tall buildings. Given the densely populated areas targeted, the use of such explosive weapons in a heavily populated area is highly likely to constitute a prohibited indiscriminate attack, according to the report. At least 218 deaths have been confirmed as a direct result of these six attacks, with the actual number of casualties likely to be significantly higher.

The UN report suggests that the IDF’s actions may have repeatedly violated the fundamental principles of the laws of war. Such illegal attacks, when part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population, may also amount to crimes against humanity. The methods and means used by Israel in conducting hostilities in Gaza, including the extensive use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas, failed to effectively distinguish between civilians and combatants.

The nature of the weapons used, especially in densely populated areas like Gaza, poses a significant risk to civilian lives. The UN officials on the ground identified civilian casualties in terms of deaths and injuries, highlighting that the principles of international humanitarian law, including precaution, distinction, and proportionality, were not necessarily followed in these incidents.

While the report primarily focuses on Israel’s actions, it also condemns Palestinian armed groups for indiscriminately firing rockets into Israel, which is inconsistent with their obligations under international humanitarian law. The cycle of violence and disregard for civilian lives on both sides of the conflict only exacerbates the situation and perpetuates the suffering of innocent people caught in the crossfire.

It is crucial for all parties involved to respect and uphold the laws of war, protect civilians, and work towards a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict. The international community must hold accountable those responsible for violations of international law and ensure justice for the victims of these senseless acts of violence in the region.