A simple look at the timeline of human evolution will make you realize that history is full of wars and people fighting against each other for one reason or another. In most cases, organized wars are usually launched by governments and their leaders, not by the common people, and they are often the result of greedy people’s desire for control of certain lands and the resources found there. Even though war is the ultimate and absolutely worst solution to resolve differences between two or more groups, the atrocities that take place during it are even worse than the war itself. This is how the concept of war crimes emerged at the end of the nineteenth century, when the body of customary international law applicable to warfare between sovereign states was codified.
There have been many war crimes since the term first began to be officially used, and it’s truly terrifying to think how many more there would be if the concept existed from the start of military history. Some of the deadliest war crimes include the violent colonization of the Americas, the Holocaust, and the Holodomor, but we are afraid these are only some of the most well-known and not just solitary incidents. These are 25 Lesser-Known But Horrific War Crimes That Might Shock You.
The Bleiburg repatriations encompass events that took place after World War II in Europe, when tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians associated with the Axis Powers fleeing Yugoslavia were repatriated to that country. Thousands were murdered or subjected to forced labor camps.
The Višegrad massacres, also known as the Višegrad Genocide, were acts of mass murder committed against the Bosniak population of the town of Višegrad during the ethnic cleansing of eastern Bosnia at the start of the Bosnian War. According to documents from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based on the victim reports, about three thousand Bosniaks were murdered during the violence, including about six hundred women and 119 children.
Ghouta Chemical Attack
The Ghouta chemical attack took place during the Syrian Civil War in the early hours of August 21, 2013. Several opposition-controlled areas around Damascus were struck by rockets containing the chemical agent sarin. Estimates of the death toll range from at least 281 to 1,729, with many of them children. The attack was the deadliest use of chemical weapons since the Iran–Iraq War.
Khan Yunis Massacre
This massacre took place during the Suez Crisis on November 3, 1956, in the Palestinian town of Khan Yunis. During an Israel Defense Forces operation to reopen the Egyptian-blockaded Straits of Tiran, Israeli soldiers shot two hundred unarmed Palestinians in Khan Yunis and Rafah. According to Joe Sacco’s graphic novel Footnotes in Gaza, Israeli soldiers shot a number of Palestinian men in their homes and lined up others and executed them. However, the Israeli authorities claim IDF soldiers ran into local militants and a battle erupted.
Al-Askari Mosque Bombing
On February 22, 2006, al-Askari mosque, in the Iraqi city of Samarra, was bombed. President George W. Bush suggested that “the evidence indicated” it was “an Al Qaeda plot.” The bombing was followed by retaliatory violence with over a hundred dead bodies being found the next day and well over one thousand people killed in the days following the bombing.