The systematic destruction of civilian housing and infrastructure in Gaza has been declared a war crime by Balakrishnan Rajagopal, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing. He emphasised that such acts, when directed against civilians, also constitute crimes against humanity.
“Carrying out hostilities with the knowledge that they will systematically destroy and damage civilian housing and infrastructure, rendering an entire city – such as Gaza city – uninhabitable for civilians is a war crime,” said Rajagopal.
Rajagopal’s report to the UN General Assembly applied the term “domicide” to these widespread attacks, which have rendered Gaza city uninhabitable and resulted in significant civilian casualties, including children and women.
Rajagopal’s statement, while focused on Gaza, resonates with the situation in North and East Syria, where Turkish military operations have similarly devastated civilian life. Nadine Maenza, a prominent human rights advocate, reported from the field that over two million people in the region are now without water or electricity due to over 200 airstrikes targeting vital infrastructure.
The Turkish military’s recent offensive has been marked by the destruction of hospitals, schools and utilities, with reports of civilian deaths. Maenza highlighted the irony of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s well-aired comments on human rights in Gaza while his forces are accused of similar violations in Syria.
The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) has reported extensive damage to civilian infrastructure, including power plants and water stations, severely impacting the region’s stability and its fight against ISIS. The AANES has called for international scrutiny and a transparent investigation into Turkey’s actions.
Rajagopal’s call for justice extends beyond Gaza, referring to the precedent set in the 1970s with the unseating of the South African delegation for similar violations. He urged accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity. “There can be no peace without justice,” he stressed.