THE HAGUE, 11 October 2023 – As the number of fatalities continues to climb in Israel and Gaza, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) urges all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law (IHL) and end all attacks and violence targeting civilians.
The last few days in Israel and Gaza have been marked by devastating violence and civilian harm, including likely violations of the rules of war by all parties. Human rights organizations and institutions, including the UN Human Rights Council, have reported “clear evidence that war crimes may have been committed” on all sides of the conflict.
CIVIC reiterates its deep concern regarding attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure as well as hostage-taking of civilians by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups. We call on them to immediately and unconditionally release all civilians held hostage, refrain from using civilians as human shields, and stop all attacks against civilians in Israel. Until they are released, hostages must be treated humanely at all times.
CIVIC is alarmed by statements from the Israeli government of a “complete siege” of Gaza in response to Hamas’ attacks, including cutting off the flow of food, water, electricity, and fuel. This exacerbates an already fragile situation, triggering a humanitarian disaster for up to 2 million inhabitants – approximately half of whom are children. Ongoing shelling of Gaza by Israel has also drastically reduced the options for civilians to seek shelter and self-protect and is leading to an ever-increasing number of internally displaced persons.
CIVIC calls on Israel to refrain from collective punishment and cease all indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure.
CIVIC also joins the call of organizations present in Gaza to establish a humanitarian corridor for safe and unimpeded movement of aid and health workers as well as the delivery of emergency assistance to all people in need.
CIVIC reminds members of the international community of their obligation to uphold IHL and to hold all warring parties to the same standards of compliance and accountability. In particular, CIVIC calls on the United States, a close ally of Israel, to reiterate the importance of IHL compliance in all diplomatic engagements. It also calls on all States providing security assistance and intelligence sharing to ensure that this doesn’t contribute to further violations. In addition, diplomatic efforts should seek to prevent a regional spillover of the conflict.
This renewed violence between Israel and Palestinian armed groups, primarily Hamas, is a continuation of an unresolved decades-long armed conflict and occupation that has included systemic human rights violations and inequality as well as the blockade of Gaza since 2007. CIVIC restates our calls for parties to address the root causes of this conflict and ensure accountability for harm.
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Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that envisions a world in which no civilian is harmed in conflict. Founded in 2003 by Marla Ruzicka, CIVIC now works in dozens of countries. Learn more at www.civiliansinconflict.org and follow CIVIC on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.