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Cutting off Gaza’s water supply ‘war crime’: Iran’s top rights official

Palestinians watch a fire burn among the rubble of a damaged residential building, in the aftermath of Israeli strikes, in Gaza City, on October 10, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Iran’s top rights official has denounced as a “war crime” the Israeli regime’s disruption of water supply to the Gaza Strip amid the atrocious military onslaught on the besieged territory.

“Access to safe drinking water is recognized as a human right. The Zionist regime’s decision to cut off water supplies to the residents of Gaza is considered a war crime,” Kazem Gharibabadi, Secretary of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, wrote in a post published on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday.

He further said the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group also cut off water supplies to Syria’s Aleppo city in 2016, after which then United Nations resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator for Syria denounced the move as a war crime.

Israeli energy minister Israel Katz said on Monday that he had instructed authorities to cut water supply to the Gaza Strip. 

“All the water supply pipes from Israel to the Gaza Strip have been disconnected,” Israel’s Channel 12 television channel quoted Katz as saying.

He said electricity and fuel supplies were cut off from Gaza two days ago.

The latest move comes after Israeli minister of military affairs Yoav Gallant decided to impose a “complete” siege on Gaza, saying no electricity, food, water or fuel will reach the Strip.

Since Saturday, Israel has closed all crossings with the Gaza Strip in both directions.

Total siege of Gaza ‘prohibited’ under int’l law: UN

Meanwhile, the United Nations human rights chief said on Tuesday that Israel’s total siege of the Gaza Strip is banned under international law.

“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,” Volker Turk said in a statement.

Turk also said that Israeli air operations have struck residential buildings, including large tower blocks, as well as schools and UN buildings across Gaza, resulting in civilian casualties.

“International humanitarian law is clear: the obligation to take constant care to spare the civilian population and civilian objects remains applicable throughout the attacks,” he added.

More than 187,500 internally displaced in Gaza

The UN humanitarian relief agency (OCHA) also said the number of Palestinians believed to have fled their homes now exceeds 187,518, and the figure is expected to increase as Israeli bombardment of the enclave continues.

Some 137,427 of the displaced people have taken shelter in 83 schools managed by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), and the facilities are nearing capacity.

The UN also noted it has already been forced to close all 14 food distribution centers in Gaza — leaving half a million people without vital food aid.

Moreover, Israeli airstrikes have damaged three facilities used for water, sanitation and hygiene, undermining services to over 400,000 in Gaza City and the northern sector of the Gaza Strip.

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