The Hague, 9 October 2023 – Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) calls for an immediate de-escalation of the conflict between Israel and Palestinian armed groups and urges all parties to cease their attacks against civilians. Parties to the conflict must uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including taking all necessary precautions to distinguish between civilians and combatants.
Civilian harm from all parties, including the intentional targeting of civilians and civilian objects, is alarming and indicates violations of international law, including possible war crimes.
CIVIC calls on Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups to stop targeting civilians, launching unlawful attacks, and using indiscriminate weapons. We also recall that the abduction of civilians and hostage-taking are prohibited by international law, and abducted civilians must be released immediately.
CIVIC is highly concerned by the Israeli military operations in Gaza and the civilian casualties already reported. Israel must avoid indiscriminate and disproportionate military responses in Gaza. We also remind the government of Israel that the rules of international humanitarian law must be respected in all circumstances, regardless of the violations of other parties. Furthermore, providing warning of attack does not absolve warring parties of their legal and moral obligations, and all civilians must be afforded safe passage and access to life-saving humanitarian assistance.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) should call for an immediate de-escalation, use their influence over leaders on all sides to ensure they exercise maximum restraint when using force, and avoid a further spillover of the conflict in the region. The UNSC should request safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance into Gaza and all affected conflict areas.
CIVIC also urges governments delivering military support to parties to the conflict, including weapons, to ensure such aid is not used in violation of international humanitarian law or human rights violations.
As a nation that provides billions of dollars of military assistance to Israel annually, the United States bears a special responsibility in this regard. The U.S. must urgently review its assistance to Israel to ensure such assistance does not support civilian harm and human rights violations, and end assistance that does; ensure that US assistance and its impacts are traceable and subject to monitoring and accountability mechanisms; and finally bring US assistance to Israel in line with the federal laws and policies that all US aid is subject to.
Year after year, civilians have borne the brunt of armed conflict and occupation. Violence and injustice fuel further cycles of violence and injustice. Because no lasting solution lies in the use of force, CIVIC calls for the parties to address the root causes of this conflict including systemic human rights violations.
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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.