ICHR Urgent Appeal to the International Community
on the Deterioration of the Situation in the Gaza Strip
Palestine Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) condemns the Israeli occupation forces’ continued systematic aggression against the Gaza Strip and its escalation for the sixth consecutive day. Intensive attacks of the occupation forces targeting various populated residential areas and deliberately targeting safe Palestinian homes and demolishing them over the heads of their residents, while they are sleeping and without prior warning. This has caused the extermination of entire families. This, in addition to the deliberate systematic targeting and destroying civilian objects and public facilities with revenge and collective punishment, causing the fall of dozens of martyrs and hundreds of wounded, with suspected use of internationally prohibited weapons and gases.
The toll of the ongoing aggression on the Gaza Strip until this date, based on the updates of the Ministry of Health, amounted to the fall of at least (188) martyrs, including (52) children and (31) women, and at least (1225) civilians were injured with various wounds, among them ( 313 children and 206 women. There is an escalating increase in the number of martyrs and wounded at every moment. Israel targeted dozens of residential buildings, among which (4) residential towers were leveled to the ground. Each of them housed dozens of residential units, press offices, and commercial companies. The number of completely housing units that Israel destroyed, by yesterday, reached (219) units in various areas of the Gaza Strip, whose residents have suffered forced displacement. This, in addition to partial damage to hundreds of private and public homes and properties of citizens, schools, mosques, agricultural lands, dozens of cars, buildings, government offices, banks, and other public facilities, the bombing of which resulted in widespread destruction.
This comes at a time when the occupation authorities continue closing the Gaza Strip crossings before the movement of citizens and closing the sea to fishermen. In addition to the humanitarian conditions for the residents of the Gaza Strip that continue to deteriorate in an unprecedented way; due to the tight blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for the fourteenth year in a row and blocking the entry of food and medical supplies, medicines, and fuel supplies, which has catastrophic repercussions on citizens’ conditions and the threat to their ability to receive basic services, especially health care services, supplies of potable water, sanitation and electricity. This is a result of the occupation forces’ targeting, during their current and previous aggressions, public facilities including roads, installations, and vehicles belonging to municipalities, and their systematic targeting of the infrastructure of water, electricity, and sewage networks. This contributes to transforming the Gaza Strip into an insecure place to house nearly 2 million Palestinians.
The deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip exacerbates with the recent increased outbreak of the Coronavirus, and the need for hundreds of those infected and wounded in the aggression to receive private healthcare in hospitals that mainly suffer overcrowding, severe shortages of medicines and medical supplies, the start of fuel shortages and severe shortages of supplies. This comes at the time when electricity cuts place additional burdens on the exhausted medical staff, affect the work of laboratories and hospitals. These institutions already have limited ability to operate generators to compensate for power shortage, while the time when the Electricity Distribution Company in Gaza Strip announced that it would cut off electricity. This is due to the near run out of the fuel, because of the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing, the disruption of several main electricity lines supplying electricity from the Israeli.
The closure of the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, for its part, threatens the lives of hundreds of Gaza patients who suffer from cancer and other serious diseases, by depriving them of the opportunity to access the necessary treatment and health care outside the Gaza Strip and to obtain the necessary medical referrals for that.
The above came in the context of the Israeli occupation continuing attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem and attempt to implement settlement plans and a policy of ethnic cleansing in occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli objective is to forcibly displace dozens of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and seize their homes located in the heart of occupied Jerusalem, as part of plans to change the demographic composition and control the city. These plans include replacing the Palestinian population with its settlers, in clear violation of the principles of international law, which considers East Jerusalem as occupied territory. This, in addition to the systematic attacks and restrictions by the occupation forces and settlers against Jerusalemites and worshipers in Al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan, and the residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and people in solidarity with them. The citizens of the occupied West Bank suffer new occupation attacks by the occupation forces and settlers, which caused the death of 16 Palestinians in different West Bank areas, since the beginning of the aggression on Al-Aqsa, and during confrontations denouncing the Israeli aggression on the Strip and other retaliatory incidents, which signal the upcoming threat of settlers.
ICHR holds the occupying Power fully responsible for the lives of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory, for the scheme of expulsion and forced displacement of dozens of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem, and the profound humanitarian impacts and repercussions on the affected families. ICHR demands an end of the occupation crimes in Sheikh Jarrah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, respect for its sanctity, and the protection of the holy sites in occupied Jerusalem. ICHR also calls for exerting efforts and take immediate and urgent measures and interventions to stop the imminent forced evictions of Palestinians in the neighborhood and to prevent their displacement from their homes in respect of the principles of international humanitarian law.
ICHR condemns the crimes of the Israeli occupation forces against civilians in the Gaza Strip and their properties that amount to war crimes. ICHR further warns of the consequences of the occupation forces escalating their aggression and crimes and expanding their military operations against the Palestinians, which will cause innocent civilian casualties, especially among children and women. It also warns of the escalation of the occupation and settlers' crimes against the Palestinians in all parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the city of Jerusalem.
ICHR also denounces the war crimes committed by the Israeli occupation forces against civilians in the Gaza Strip. It affirms that the silence of the international community and impunity of the occupying power encouraged it to persist in its aggression and commit more crimes in Gaza, which is still suffering from the effects of the previous repeated Israeli aggressions and tight siege. It further affirms that the international community holding the occupying state accountable for its grave crimes against the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory would be less costly than dealing with the various humanitarian, social, economic, and political repercussions of the aggression against the Gaza Strip and the implementation of ethnic cleansing policies in the occupied city of Jerusalem.
Accordingly, ICHR calls for:
1. The international community, especially the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians in Time of War of 1949, to stand before their legal and moral obligations and provide protection for Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory. Take urgent action and effective measures to stop the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. Exert serious pressure on the occupying power to stop its aggression against the occupied Gaza Strip immediately. Protect the lives of its residents, prevent more losses of their lives, put an end to the Israeli terror and gross violations of Gaza residents’ rights and their right to property and ensure that the occupying power respects the principles of international humanitarian law that are binding in all cases.
2. The international community and the specialized United Nations organizations take all measures to stop the mass forced displacement carried out by the Israeli occupation forces against the residents of the Gaza Strip.
3. The International Criminal Court to investigate the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip, against civilians and children, in every aggression it launched against the Strip and to hold accountable the occupation leaders who gave orders to commit these crimes and whoever carried them out. ICHR calls for the need for international humanitarian organizations to provide for the humanitarian needs of the forcibly displaced in the Gaza Strip, including food, medical supplies, medicines and clean drinking water.