Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Israel May Have Violated Laws of War in Gaza Campaign, UN Rights Office Says 

People sit in the back of a truck moving along a road in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 18, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
People sit in the back of a truck moving along a road in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 18, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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Israel May Have Violated Laws of War in Gaza Campaign, UN Rights Office Says 

People sit in the back of a truck moving along a road in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 18, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
People sit in the back of a truck moving along a road in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 18, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli forces may have repeatedly violated the laws of war and failed to distinguish between civilians and fighters in the Gaza conflict, the UN human rights office said on Wednesday.

Separately, the head of a UN inquiry accused the Israeli military of carrying out an "extermination" of Palestinians.

In a report on six deadly Israeli attacks, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said Israeli forces "may have systematically violated the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack".

"The requirement to select means and methods of warfare that avoid or at the very least minimize to every extent civilian harm appears to have been consistently violated in Israel's bombing campaign," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said.

Israel's permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva characterized the analysis as "factually, legally, and methodologically flawed". "Since the OHCHR has, at best, a partial factual picture, any attempt to reach legal conclusions is inherently flawed," it said.

In a separate meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the head of a UN Commission of Inquiry, Navi Pillay, said perpetrators of abuses in the conflict must be brought to account.

She repeated findings from a report published last week that both Hamas militants and Israel have committed war crimes but said that Israel alone was responsible for the most serious abuses under international law known as "crimes against humanity".

She said the scale of Palestinian civilian losses amounted to "extermination".

"We found that the immense numbers of civilian casualties in Gaza and widespread destruction of civilian objects and infrastructure were the inevitable result of an intentional strategy to cause maximum damage," Pillay, a former UN rights chief and South African judge, told the meeting.

Israel, which does not typically cooperate with the inquiry and alleges an anti-Israel bias, chose the mother of a hostage to speak on its behalf and criticized the report on the grounds that it did not give due attention to hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7.

"We can do better for them. The hostages need us," Meirav Gonen, the mother of 23-year-old hostage Romi Gonen, said in a tearful appeal.

HEAVY WEAPONRY

Israel's air and ground offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory, according to health authorities there.

Israel launched its assault after Hamas fighters stormed across the border into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 250 people hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

The UN rights office report details six incidents that took place between Oct. 7 and Dec. 2, in which it was able to assess the kinds of weapons, the means and the methods used in these attacks.

"We felt that it was important to get this report out now, especially because in the case of some of these attacks, some eight months have passed, and we are yet to see credible and transparent investigations," said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN human rights office.

She added that in the absence of transparent investigations, there would be "a need for international action in this regard".

Pillay also condemned Israel's military methods in Gaza, saying the use of heavy weapons in densely populated areas "constitutes an intentional and direct attack on the civilian population".

Commissioner Chris Sidoti later told reporters that its findings, which are being shared with the International Criminal Court, showed that Israel was "one of the most criminal armies in the world."

He said the inquiry, which aims to investigate the treatment of hostages, as well as that of thousands of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, had so far been hindered by Israel.

"Far from having cooperation, what we have encountered is obstruction," he said.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : UN, World Bank to Fund Climate-Resilient Roads in Rural Areas in Yemen

Supporting local initiatives in Yemen to maintain rural roads (Social Fund for Development)
Supporting local initiatives in Yemen to maintain rural roads (Social Fund for Development)
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UN, World Bank to Fund Climate-Resilient Roads in Rural Areas in Yemen

Supporting local initiatives in Yemen to maintain rural roads (Social Fund for Development)
Supporting local initiatives in Yemen to maintain rural roads (Social Fund for Development)

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the World Bank are constructing climate-resilient roads in rural areas in Yemen and are enhancing road infrastructure to improve access to food and basic services for rural communities across the country, the two bodies revealed in a statement.

The constructions are part of the three-year Yemen Emergency Lifeline Connectivity project, which began in 2022.

The project aims to provide climate resilient road access and employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to the food insecure rural population of Yemen.

It comprises rural and village access roads improvement and maintenance, such as the rehabilitation of lifeline rural access roads and road maintenance through private sector participation and supply chain enhancement.

Also, the project will strengthen the management capacity of transport sector public institutions to finance the project management capacities of the road maintenance fund (RMF) and rural access program (RAP) through a program of capacity building.

This aims to prepare them to efficiently manage the network in the medium to longer-term and strengthen RAP’s and RMF’s capacity to predict, respond, and design resilient roads infrastructure to extreme climate events such as floods, to assess vulnerability of infrastructure assets and prepare and implement resilient investment plans.

In addition, the project supports monitoring and evaluation to ensure that the project is successfully and efficiently implemented and to provide immediate response to an eligible crisis or emergency following the procedures governed by the Bank policy for investment project financing.

$50 Million

With $50 million in funding from the World Bank's International Development Association, UNOPS said it is rehabilitating and upgrading 150 km of access roads in rural areas and 60 km of access roads to villages, as well as supporting the maintenance of an additional 150 km of road.

UNOPS is also procuring and installing three pre-fabricated bridges as part of the project.

To date, works on more than 70 km of roads are complete, while works on 85 km are near complete.

“We are proud to partner with the World Bank on a project that will help increase economic opportunities for rural communities by facilitating their access to markets and social services,” said Muhammad Usman Akram, Director of UNOPS Multi-Country Office in Amman.

The rehabilitated roads will help address food insecurity and foster the safe and reliable delivery of food and other essential goods to rural communities.

The all-weather roads will also provide a way for humanitarian organizations to access more communities.

“The reactivation of the Road Asset Management System will support Yemen in assessing the vulnerability of infrastructure assets, designing climate-resilient road infrastructure and preparing climate-resilient investment plans for subsequent implementation in the future,” added Usman Akram.