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United Nations experts raise concerns about potential war crimes committed by Israel in West Bank hospital through undercover killings

On Friday, a group of United Nations experts warned that the recent deaths of three Palestinian individuals in a West Bank hospital could potentially be considered war crimes and called for an inquiry into the matter. The alleged actions by undercover Israeli operatives have been described as "extrajudicial killings" and may be considered serious breaches of international laws, according to five independent specialists who released a joint statement on the issue.

Reuters WORLD
Published February 09,2024

The killing of three Palestinian men in a hospital in the occupied West Bank last month by Israeli commandos disguised as medical workers and Muslim women may amount to war crimes, a group of U.N. experts said on Friday.

The three militants were killed on Jan. 29 in a joint undercover operation by the army, Shin Bet security service and border police in the Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin, one of the most volatile cities in the West Bank, Israel's military said.

"Under international humanitarian law, killing a defenceless injured patient who is being treated in a hospital amounts to a war crime," the U.N. experts said in a statement, referring to Basel Al-Ghazzawi, a patient being treated for injuries it said were caused by an Israeli air strike.

"By disguising themselves as seemingly harmless, protected medical personnel and civilians, the Israeli forces also prima facie committed the war crime of perfidy, which is prohibited in all circumstances," they added, calling for Israel to conduct an investigation.

The experts concerned are special rapporteurs engaged by the United Nations to examine a specific human rights issue.

Israel's military was not immediately available for comment on their statement.

CCTV footage from the hospital showed a group of about 10 people, dressed variously in civilian clothes and medical garb and including three in headscarves and women's clothing, pacing through a corridor, armed with assault rifles.

Israel's military has said that one of the men killed in the hospital was a member of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, which governs Gaza, and the others worked for Jenin Brigade and the armed wing of Islamic Jihad.

The West Bank has seen an explosion of violence since the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the subsequent invasion of Gaza by Israel.