UN rights chief calls Israeli orders to relocate Palestinians from Rafah inhumane

Turk UN High Commissioner for Human Rights addresses the Human Rights Council in Geneva

GENEVA (Reuters) - Israeli orders to relocate Palestinians from Rafah are inhumane and risked exposing them to further danger and misery, the U.N. human rights chief said on Monday, warning that such actions can sometimes amount to a war crime.

Israel carried out airstrikes in Rafah on Monday and told Palestinians to evacuate parts of the southern Gaza city where more than a million people uprooted by the seven-month war have been sheltering in tents and crowded schools.

"Gazans continue to be hit with bombs, disease, and even famine. And today, they have been told that they must relocate yet again as Israeli military operations into Rafah scale up," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in a statement. "This is inhumane."

Israeli strikes have flattened other parts of Gaza to such an extent that there is no location beyond Rafah with the infrastructure and resources to host those currently sheltering there, the U.N. human rights office statement added.

Ordering the displacement of civilians is prohibited by international humanitarian law, the statement added, with only a few exceptions which are subject to strict legal requirements. If those requirements are not met, such actions may amount to the war crime of forced displacement, it said.

(Reporting by Emma Farge)