The UN human rights chief said on Tuesday that Israel’s total siege of the Gaza Strip and the announcement to deprive civilians of goods essential for survival was banned under the international law.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said people’s dignity and lives had to be respected as he called for all sides to defuse the “explosive powder-keg situation”.
Turk's remarks come after Israel imposed a total siege on the Gaza Strip on Monday, cutting off food, water and electricity supplies and sparking fears of an increasingly desperate humanitarian crisis. Hamas has threatened to execute the hostages if Israeli air strikes continue targeting Gaza residents without warning.
“International humanitarian law is clear: the obligation to take constant care to spare the civilian population and civilian objects remains applicable throughout the attacks,” Turk said in a statement.
The siege risk seriously compounding the already dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the capacity of medical facilities to operate, especially in light of increasing numbers of injured, the statement said.
“The imposition of sieges that endanger the lives of civilians by depriving them of goods essential for their survival is prohibited under international humanitarian law,” Turk said.
Any restrictions on the movement of people and goods to implement a siege must be justified by military necessity or may otherwise amount to collective punishment, the statement added.
Palestinian officials and media representatives confirmed that four Palestinian journalists were killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza City on Tuesday.
The latest deaths bring the number of Palestinian journalists killed in the fighting since Saturday to eight, the Palestinian Press Union said in a statement.
Another union, the Gaza journalists’ syndicate, announced earlier “the martyrdom of three journalists in the Gaza Strip in the ongoing Israeli aggression”.
The chief of Gaza’s Hamas-run government media office, Salameh Maarouf, identified the three as Said al-Taweel, director of Al-Khamisa news agency; press photographer Mohammed Sobboh, and Hisham Nawajhah, a correspondent for a Gaza news agency.
They were killed in a strike while covering the evacuation of a residential building near Gaza City’s fishing port, Maarouf said, condemning Israel’s “criminal behaviour against journalists”.
Members of the press were standing several dozen metres (yards) from the building after a resident received a telephone call from the Israeli army warning of an imminent strike, an AFP correspondent reported.
Witnesses said the Israeli strike hit a different building, closer to where the journalists had been.
Later in the day, the press union said the head of its committee of women journalists, Salam Khalil, was killed along with her husband and children when the family’s home in the northern Gaza Strip was hit in a “treacherous” Israeli bombing.
Journalist Asad Shamlakh was killed on Sunday, the media office statement said, adding two cameramen were missing and 10 journalists were wounded.
Three journalists were killed on Saturday, according to the Palestinian statement and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The New York-based media rights group said on Monday that Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi, a photographer, Mohammad Jarghoun, a reporter, and Mohammad El-Salhi had been shot dead in different incidents.
Pakistani currency remains stable against US dollar and other currencies in the open market on February 21, 2024 (Wednesday).
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.6 for buying and 282.4 for selling.
Euro comes down to 300 for buying and 303 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 350.5 for buying, and 354 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.15 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.35.
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