On June 12, 2024, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)’s permanent “Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel” (COI) published its newest report detailing Hamas’s brutal attack in Israel on October 7th and Israel’s defensive military response. The report contained two accompanying “conference room papers” – a 59-page report on “attacks carried out on and after 7 October 2023 in Israel” and a 126-page report on the “military operations and attacks carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory from 7 October to 31 December 2023.” While the COI discusses the Hamas atrocities, it minimizes their severity, ignores the geo-political context, draws false moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas, engages in victim blaming, and denies Israel’s right to self-defense and self-determination. Absurdly, the COI ultimately concludes that while both Israel and Hamas are guilty of war crimes, only Israel is guilty of “crimes against humanity.”

In one of the most egregious lines from its report, the COI claims, “there is no evidence suggesting that the events of 7 October, as tragic and outrageous as they were, at any time posed a real threat to the continued existence of the State of Israel or of the Jewish people.” The COI seems to be ignoring the multitude of Hamas officials’ public statements claiming “October 7 was just a rehearsal” and “The Al-Aqsa Deluge [the name Hamas gave its October 7 onslaught] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.” The COI also disregards that the Hamas Charter clearly calls for the destruction of the state of Israel and the elimination of the Jewish people.

The Commission has consistently minimized and negated Israel’s right to self-defense against Palestinian terrorism, implying that terrorism is not a valid justification for Israel’s security concerns and claiming that the term “is not clearly defined under international law.” It has also whitewashed terrorists as “human rights defenders,” abusing this framework. The COI’s last report (October 2023) also placed scare quotation marks around the words terrorism, terrorist, and terror every time they appeared, belittling the term and discounting Israel’s legitimate security measures. It similarly ignores the role of Iran and the ongoing and serious security threats posed by Iranian proxies, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and of course Hamas.

The COI itself also must be held accountable for its role in inflaming the conflict. By denying Israel’s right to self-defense against terrorism, drawing equivalences between Israel and Hamas, and denying the existence of Palestinian terrorism, the Commission ultimately emboldens and encourages terrorist organizations and violent acts against Israel, such as what occurred on October 7. 


The report relies heavily on unverifiable, anonymous testimonies and politicized NGOs. It is unclear if and how the COI attempted to independently corroborate these sources and to what extent it engaged in any investigation beyond a narrow selection of source material and individuals confirming the COI’s predetermined conclusions.

According to the report, “The Commission conducted remote interviews with victims and witnesses and consulted other sources of information inside Israel, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in several other countries…the Commission was able to gather valuable first-hand accounts, including from children, of acts committed in Gaza since 7 October 2023. It met with more than 70 victims and witnesses, more than two thirds of whom were women.” 

Moreover, the COI claims that “Information that met the criteria of reliability and authenticity was included and analysed under the standard of proof of ‘reasonable grounds to conclude’.”

Unreliable Sources

The report contains little original research, but rather copies-and-pastes from previous UN attacks on Israel – which themselves are largely based on repeating distorted factual and legal claims from anti-Israel NGOs.

The COI cites and reiterates unverified claims by many politicized and biased NGOs including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam International, Al-Haq, B’Tselem, +972 Magazine, Medecins sans Frontières, Save the Children, CARE International, Gisha, Norwegian Refugee Council, and Yesh Din. Some of these NGOs have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. Many of these NGOs also promote the narrative that Israel is guilty of apartheid and commits war crimes. Many consistently advance an anti-Israel “apartheid” narrative, rejecting Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and advocating for BDS. Almost all of these groups refuse to document or condemn Palestinian violations of human rights and international law. Those that have on occasion done so, do so solely in cursory, token fashion to blunt criticism of their on-going bias and lack of credibility.

Additionally, the report and accompanying briefs contain references to or citations from UN agencies, including over 100 citations to OCHA. OCHA’s data comes from Hamas and unverified and unreliable claims of political advocacy NGOs, many of which are terror-linked, as well as claims by the PLO. These organizations regularly fail to implement best practices in fact checking and research methodology, lack legal and military expertise, and do not represent credible sources of information.

The report also contains approximately 60 references to UNRWA. Hamas’ and other terror groups’ exploitation of UNRWA and its facilities is well documented. Nowhere in the report or accompanying conference room papers does the COI acknowledge the commandeering of UNRWA facilities or the blatant evidence of UNRWA employees’ involvement in Hamas terrorism, including direct participation in the brutal October 7 slaughter. 

Manipulating Palestinian Casualty Claims

When reporting casualties of strikes, the COI generally does not have independently verifiable information. When detailing the Israeli October 7 casualties, the Commission is careful to provide information on the breakdown of casualties of civilians and army personnel according to Israeli sources. However, when it comes to the details surrounding casualties in Gaza, the Commission cites the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health (which the UN deputy spokesperson has referred to as their “counterpart” in Gaza) as well as several NGOs that are linked to the PFLP terrorist organization. As a result, it often conflates combatants and civilians. 

High casualty figures – either misidentifying terrorists as civilians or neglecting to mention the terrorist affiliations – reinforce  the appearance of wrongdoing by Israel. It also undermines the foundation of IHL, which requires distinguishing between armed actors and civilians. Additionally, the COI also does not disclose that in May the UN significantly reduced the numbers of women and children killed in Gaza. 

The IDF, as well as NGOs such as the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, NGO Monitor, and others, have independently demonstrated that many of the supposed civilians killed throughout the conflict were, in fact, combatants or civilians directly participating in hostilities. According to Israel, the Hamas casualty number includes 15,000 combatants.

Drawing False Equivalence between Hamas and Israel in Regards to Sexual Violence

Throughout the report, the COI draws false equivalence between IDF soldiers and Hamas with regards to acts of sexual violence, while simultaneously demonstrating double standards and prejudice against Israel. 

On one hand, the COI was able to “identif[y] patterns indicative of sexual violence in several locations…and this violence was not isolated but perpetrated in similar ways in several locations and by multiple Palestinian perpetrators.” On the other, despite that survivors of the barbaric attack have reported witnessing the brutal raping of women and Hamas filmed and published horrific images on social media showing members of Hamas engaging in sexual assault, the COI claims, “The Commission did not find credible evidence, however, that militants received orders to commit sexual violence and so it was unable to make conclusions on this issue.” The COI also falsely claims with no evidence that “allegations of sexual violence on 7 October 2023 have resulted in a sense of emasculation among Israeli men on a national scale, which has supported attempts to rebuild Israeli national masculinity through aggression.” Such pseudo-psychological speculation is clearly beyond the COI’s competence.

At the same time, when discussing sexual violence allegedly carried out by Israel, the COI claims the IDF’s actions were “intended to humiliate and degrade the Palestinian population as a whole.” Additionally, unlike with Hamas that live streamed their war crimes, in the case of the IDF, “Based on the way in which such acts were committed, including with filming, photographing and posting material online, in conjunction with the many cases with similar methods observed in multiple locations, the Commission concludes that forced public stripping and nudity and other types of abuse by Israeli military personnel were either ordered or condoned.” The COI even goes so far as to claim “specific forms of SGBV are part of ISF operating procedures…leads the Commission to conclude that forced public stripping and nudity and other related types of abuse were either ordered or condoned by Israeli authorities.” In fact, the IDF, like many other security forces, engages in strip-searches in order to ensure detained individuals are not carrying weapons or explosives.

This behavior of ignoring sexual violence of Israelis is not new to the UN. Nearly two months after the brutal rampage and only following widespread condemnation for her silence did the UN Women executive director first mention she was “alarmed by disturbing reports of gender-based and sexual violence,” failing to mention Hamas or Israeli victims. After only more condemnation and two more weeks did UN Women issue a statement condemning Hamas’ use of sexual violence. Likewise, the UN Secretary General did not condemn the sexual violence against Israeli women until eight weeks after the atrocities. In response to the silence by the United Nations, Professor Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, who served for 12 years on the UN Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, affirmed she felt “completely betrayed” by the international women’s rights organizations for their failure to condemn – or even recognize – the rape, kidnapping and other atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists against Israeli citizens on October 7.

Placing the Blame on Israel for October 7 and Ignoring Decades of Past Terorrism

In the report, the COI states that the October 7 attack and the response by Israel should be seen “in context” and “not be seen in isolation.” According to the COI, these actions were “preceded by decades of violence, unlawful occupation and Israel’s denial of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, manifested in continuous forced displacement, dispossession, exploitation of natural resources, blockade, settlement construction and expansion, and systematic discrimination and oppression of the Palestinian people.” The COI ignores the terrorist organizations ruling and operating in Gaza, and the two decades of increasing rocket fire that they have directed at Israeli population centers – clear war crimes.  No credible  assessment of Israeli policy can whitewash the threat that Gaza-based terror groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad pose to Israeli citizens. 

Secondly, the COI appears to be unaware of the UN’s 2011 Palmer Report, which found that “Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.” The COI also erases the antisemitic screed of Hamas’ goal seeking to erase Jewish self-determination.

In addition, when discussing the vast network of Hamas tunnels within residential areas, the COI merely claims, “The Commission has been unable to independently verify the evidence presented by ISF. However, it takes note of reports by ISF and others that Hamas and other armed groups have built tunnels underneath civilian structures, utilized civilian structures such as some hospitals, schools and mosques for military purposes at times and fired rockets on some occasions from locations near civilian residential areas.” The COI also cannot seem to confirm the thousands of rockets being fired at Israeli population centers, sending millions rushing to shelters, from within residential areas, using language of “ISF purports to show rockets” and “reports by ISF and others.” 

However, other UN agencies have presented evidence needed for verification. On November 29, 2022, UNRWA issued a statement, according to which, it “recently identified a man-made cavity underneath the grounds of an UNRWA school in Gaza.” UNRWA strongly condemned the construction under its facility, calling it “a serious violation of the Agency’s neutrality and a breach of international law,” which “exposes children and Agency staff to significant security and safety risks” and “jeopardize[s] the ability of UNRWA to provide support and protection to the 1.4 million Palestine refugees in need in Gaza.”

Diversion of Aid

According to the COI, Israel “has failed to assume responsibility for securing aid delivery, as a party to the conflict and an occupying power, to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services.” The COI neglects to take into account direct evidenceof the diversion of aid by Hamas.

Humanitarian efforts in war zones are inherently susceptible to extortion and theft by violent actors, including terrorist organizations. In particular, Hamas has a well-documented history of raiding aid warehouses and convoys, as well as developing tax schemes designed to skim money off of international largesse. UN Gaza aid mechanisms similarly suffer from corruption, compromising the integrity of imported materials.

For years, UN agencies and humanitarian NGOs have turned a blind eye to terror actors’ diversion of humanitarian aid to produce rockets, build terror tunnels and other instruments, and to personally enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary Gazans. The UN and NGO community have ignored, and in many cases, openly covered up the embedding and co-locating of Hamas weaponry within civilian infrastructure like schools, mosques, and hospitals.

Since October 7, there have been further examples of aid diversion from the Palestinian people for use in terrorist activity. For example, on October 16, UNRWA admitted that personnel from the Hamas-run Ministry of Health “removed fuel and medical equipment from the Agency’s compound in Gaza city.” Reflecting the influence of Hamas, UNRWA later denied the claim after public outcry. Additionally, on December 12, a video clip circulated on social media, showeding humanitarian trucks entering Gaza being hijacked by Hamas gunmen. Few UN officials have taken accountability for this diversion. Instead, the standard approach is one of willful blindness and denial of these crimes.