UN official says attacks in Gaza show ‘disregard of international humanitarian law’

Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of the United Nations (U.N.) Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, said Sunday that recent attacks in the Gaza Strip against U.N. relief locations have shown a “disregard of international humanitarian law.”

During an appearance on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” moderator Margaret Brennan asked Lazzarini about the recent killings of about 108 U.N. staff members in the territory, asking why the death toll is so high.

“Yes, Margaret, this is definitely devastating news, and the United Nation never ever lost as many staff in such a short period in the conflict. But now it is also true, Margaret, that about 70 of our locations, sheltering more than 1 million people, have been hit since the beginning of the conflict,” Lazzarini told Brennan.

“And we had about 200 people who have been killed and … injured,” Lazzarini added. “And this despite the fact that we’re constantly deconflicting, and notifying the Israeli authorities, but also … Hamas about our location.”

When asked who is responsible for the attacks on their locations, Lazzarini told Brennan that the U.N. will have to launch an investigation into the allegations, saying, “We are in no position to determine who has been behind each of the incidents we have reported until now.”

“But clearly here, this has been a blatant disregard of international humanitarian law, a blatant disregard of U.N. premises, and a blatant disregard of a civilian population,” Lazzarini said.

Lazzarini’s remarks come as the Israeli military announced Sunday that 17 people — 14 Israelis and three foreign nationals — were released from Hamas’s captivity in Gaza. The ages of the released Israeli citizens range from 4 to 84 years old.

This is the latest round of hostages to be freed amid the four-day cease-fire between Israel and the militant group; 50 hostages are expected to be released by Monday. Twenty-four of them were released in the first wave Friday, and an additional 17 were released the following day.

It’s been a month since Hamas’s surprise attack against Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people. Israel has since launched a wave of attacks in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the death of tens of thousands of Palestinian residents, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

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