History is judging us all, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, in an appeal for aid to Gaza.
This statement was updated on November 16th 2023.
More than 40 days after Hamas’ horrific attack and Israel’s massive and ongoing counterattack, the situation is more dire and tragic than ever. The situation in Gaza has turned into a humanitarian catastrophe.
According to recent updated figures, more than 1200 Israelis were killed in Hamas attack and hundreds are still held as hostages inside Gaza since the raid. UNRWA, via OCHA and Gaza Ministry of Health, reports that more than 11 000 Palestinians, of which 70 percent are children, women, and elderly, were killed as a result of Israel’s indiscriminate bombings since October 7th. A further 2700 Palestinians have been reported missing and may be trapped or dead under the rubble. Since 10th November, Palestinian authorities in Gaza have declared they can no longer update the number of victims due to the collapse of communications in the North of Gaza.
Entire neighbourhoods, UN facilities, hospitals, churches, and mosques have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands displaced. We are witnessing with horror the recent images and news coming from Al Shifa hospital, which on the night of the 14th November was surrounded and raided by Israeli land forces.
As an act of collective punishment, Palestinians in Gaza still lack access to water, electricity, and fuel after Israel's decision to cut it on 9 October, and humanitarian aid is not given appropriate access. Fuel has run out and as a consequence, all communications have been cut as of 16th November, UNRWA has announced that humanitarian operations will grind to a halt due to lack of fuel.
We are witnessing a humanitarian tragedy, war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed by the Israeli army, as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. As the situation continues to escalate and given the rhetoric of Israeli government officials, many organisations, including the UN Human Rights Council, are warning about the risk of genocide.
This violence must stop! No act of terror justifies another act of terror. No killing of civilians, no matter how gruesome, justifies widespread attacks and cutting the means of survival to a population of 2.2 million people, the bombing of every civilian infrastructure in the Strip and targeting people who have nowhere to go and nowhere to hide in what is a de-facto open-air prison.
On October 27th, during an emergency session, the UN General Assembly voted for a resolution on the crisis in Gaza "calling for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.”
More than ever, the EU, the UN and the whole international community must increase their efforts to put pressure on Israel and Hamas, in a call for an immediate ceasefire. Humanitarian pauses, that was been called for by EU leaders in Brussels, are not enough. Even these, voted by the UN Security Council, on 16th November, have been rejected by Israel.
Vital and sustained humanitarian aid needs to be allowed into the Gaza Strip. The collective punishment must end. The hostages must be unconditionally released. The protection of civilians, especially children, is an international obligation, ensured as per international human rights conventions and under international humanitarian law.
Leaders of the world, especially EU member states and US, need to listen to the UN experts, to people taking the streets, to journalists, to civil society and trade unions that are calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire before the risk of genocide ceases to be only a risk.
As a civil society organisation that believes in social justice, peace, and sustainability, and the right to decent life and self-determination of Palestinians and Israelis, we join mass movements around the world in calling for a humanitarian ceasefire and for an end to the spiral of violence, war crimes, and human rights violations!
Picture Credits: Anas-Mohammed via Shutterstock