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UN urges Israel to cease its 'collective punishment' of entire population of Gaza

The UN on Friday urged Israel to put an end to its "collective punishment" of the entire population of Gaza, noting that collective punishment is a "war crime."

"A humanitarian catastrophe unfolds for the 2.2 million people locked inside Gaza who are being collectively punished," UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told a press conference in Geneva.

"Collective punishment is a war crime," Shamdasani warned and said: "Israel's collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza must immediately cease."

The use of "dehumanizing language" against Palestinians must also be halted, she underlined.

She also voiced concern over the evacuation of people in Gaza from north to south, saying such evacuation could be considered a "forcible transfer."

"Despite its repeated orders to residents of northern Gaza to move to the south, suggesting it is safe, Israeli forces strikes’ on to southern governorates and middle Gaza have intensified in recent days," the spokesperson said. "Meanwhile, heavy strikes on northern communities including in Gaza City continue. Nowhere is safe in Gaza."

"Compelling people to evacuate in these circumstances ... while under a complete siege raises serious concerns over forcible transfer, which is a war crime," Shamdasani warned.

Regarding the Israeli use of explosive weapons, she said that such weapons "with wide area effects in densely populated areas has caused extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and loss of civilian lives."

"That by all appearances is difficult to reconcile with international humanitarian law," she said.

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