Israeli and Palestinian civilians are suffering from the current flare-up in hostilities, as they have in every conflict there for decades. Already, stories are coming out detailing tragic civilian suffering, including Gazan civilians killed by Israeli airstrikes and Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian rockets. There is also significant mental anguish from the fear of rocket attacks and airstrikes that must be recognized.
Civilians have protected status under international law. Israeli Defense Forces and armed Palestinian actors must take all feasible precautions to avoid civilians during hostilities. Both parties have a responsibility to avoid population centers and prohibit indiscriminate fire by their forces, and yet each party has violated at least one of these rules in the preceding days. Hamas has fired indiscriminate rockets into populated areas while Israel has flown airstrikes on targets, both parties killing and injuring civilians. Center for Civilians in Conflict calls on both parties to minimize civilian harm and take positive steps to improve civilian protection.
As in most armed conflicts, many civilians suffering losses will be overlooked, left to pick up the pieces of their lives without recognition or help. The Israeli Government and Hamas have a duty to their populations to record civilian harm, but should also identify civilian losses their military operations have caused on the other side. Failing to do so cripples progress on civilian protection–as without knowing the impact of combat, the military cannot learn from its mistakes and civilians cannot receive help.
Notes to editors:
Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)’s mission is to improve protection for civilians caught in conflicts around the world. We call on and advise international organizations, governments, militaries, and armed non-state actors to adopt and implement policies to prevent civilian harm. When civilians are harmed we advocate for the provision of amends and post-harm assistance. We bring the voices of civilians themselves to those making decisions affecting their lives.
For more information, contact Christopher Allbritton at +1 (917) 310-4785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.