GENEVA (27 May 2024) – UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk on Monday voiced his horror at the further loss of civilian life in Gaza, after Israeli air strikes on Sunday hit a camp for displaced people in the southern city of Rafah.

“The images from the camp are horrific and point to no apparent change in the methods and means of warfare used by Israel that have already led to so many civilian deaths,” said Türk. “Sunday’s strike underscores once again that there is literally no safe place in Gaza.”

On 26 May, Palestinian armed groups fired a large barrage of rockets towards Tel Aviv in Israel, with several people reported to have been slightly injured. A few hours later, munitions from an Israeli aircraft struck a camp in the Al Hashash area in Rafah. Reports from the ground indicate several explosions and fires were ignited. The area was said to be sheltering people who had been displaced from North Gaza.

Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said that the strike had targeted senior “Hamas officials”, and that they were aware of reports that civilians had been harmed in the resulting fires.

“I note that the IDF has announced a review, but what is shockingly clear is that by striking such an area, densely packed with civilians, this was an entirely predictable outcome. It is crucial that such reviews lead to accountability and changes in policy and practices,” the High Commissioner said.

“I call on Israel to cease its military offensive in Rafah Governorate, as ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”

On 24 May, the ICJ ordered Israel to halt its offensive and any other action in the Rafah Governorate which could bring about “the physical destruction” of the Palestinian group in Gaza.

The High Commissioner once again called on all parties to the conflict to put in place a ceasefire, given the imperative of protecting civilians.

“Palestinian armed groups must stop the firing of rockets which are inherently indiscriminate, in clear violation of international humanitarian law. They must also unconditionally release all hostages at once,” Türk said.

“Israel must take immediate steps to protect civilians, and ensure they have access to essential humanitarian assistance, and release all those detained arbitrarily.”