Mass displacement attempts of over 1 million people in the Gaza Strip amid indiscriminate civilian killings is unlawful and catastrophic

Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Ali Jadallah / ANADOLU

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is shocked and horrified at the videos and reports of Israeli indiscriminate killings of civilians and the mass destruction of entire neighbourhoods in the Gaza Strip. FIDH further warns against the forcible transfer and displacement of people from the northern part of the Gaza Strip. As we continue to witness these atrocities and international crimes, FIDH expresses its solidarity with all civilians harmed in this recent cycle of violence.

Paris, Ramallah, Gaza, Jerusalem, 13 October 2023.

FIDH stands firmly by the side of its Palestinian member organisations on the ground and in Gaza; Al Mezan, Al-Haq and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Many of their team members have lost their homes, and are now ordered to evacuate. We want to reassure them that they are not alone and that a global movement for human rights stands with them.

FIDH condemns the crimes committed against civilians, including the widespread and systematic targeting of civilian structures and properties, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is reported that over 1500 Palestinians have been killed so far in Israel’s aggression on Gaza Strip. Some houses have not yet been reached by rescue teams due to limited resources. The number of injured is almost impossible to count, as all health infrastructures are in shambles and wholly unable to cope with the amount of horrendous injuries it has to face. On that account, we take reports and allegations of evidence of the use of white phosphorus munitions by Israel, causing atrocious burns and long-term injuries, very seriously and denounce their use.

FIDH condemns the Israeli aggression as an appalling act of retaliation and brute violence. As said by an official military spokesperson the “Emphasis is on damage, not accuracy” and reflects the attitude and doctrine of the Israeli military. The past 6 days have been nothing but the orchestration of the most unlivable conditions for the Palestinian people. The indiscriminate bombardments, and killings coupled with the cutting of food, water, electricity, fuel and medicine supply, all constitute international crimes which must end now.

We urge Israel to stop its bombardment campaign and call off any ground invasion of Gaza. This will only result in bloodshed and terrible loss of lives. As it was stated by FIDH Israeli member organisation B’tselem today, “Indiscriminate destruction and a siege harming innocents will not bring relief, justice, or calm”. We urge for the immediate release of the civilian hostages captured by Palestinian armed groups, acts that we have condemned, and call for their protection. All civilian lives must be protected, and international law must be respected by all sides. We further refuse the double-standard approach toward international law and human rights principles .

Indiscriminate attacks against civilians constitute crimes under international law in any context

FIDH entirely opposes the order to evacuate civilians from the North of Gaza issued on 13 October by Israel. It denounces these orders as forcible and unlawful transfer of civilians that may reflect genocidal intent. Israel has perpetually and constantly violated the right of return of the refugees it created, back in 1948 and up to today. It is expected that over a million people will be displaced by these orders. 70 to 80 % of the people in the Gaza Strip are already refugees, under severe blockade and closure for the past 16 years and having witnessed 6 major aggressions. We also remind that out of the 2.3 million people living in the Gaza Strip, 1 million are children according to Unicef.

FIDH demands that a ceasefire takes place and be accompanied by the lifting of the blockade and the end of the collective punishment against the people of the Gaza Strip. This illegal situation in Palestine must not be allowed to continue. We urge third states to fulfil their obligations towards the protected population under the illegal occupation and apartheid, and not be further complicit in the crimes against the Palestinian people. We also call on states to exert pressure on Israel to stop the aggression on Gaza and allow humanitarian aid in immediately without delay.

To the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court we reiterate our calls for prioritisation of their ongoing investigation into the Situation in the State of Palestine. We urge for a full cooperation of ICC States Parties in this investigation. Perpetrators of international crimes must be held accountable, as rampant impunity is contradictory to the path towards lasting peace in the region. The ICC has an integral role to hold perpetrators accountable and uphold international law for all people.

Today, people of conscience and human rights defenders around the world, should stand up united to uphold human rights before anything else. Double-standards should not be the norm, as international law and human rights principles are for all people. We are collectively appalled to see decisions and declarations from key political leaders that undermine international humanitarian and human rights law. Each of these is a violent blow against human rights and the moral principle that underpins any policy of sustainable peace and development: the absolute equality of human beings in dignity and rights.

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