Geneva - Issuing a dire warning today, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor cited Israel’s decision to enter a bloodier phase of its ongoing war on the Gaza Strip, which is in its fourth consecutive week. The organisation stated that Israel is escalating its attacks and isolating the heavily populated region of Gaza.
The Geneva-based organisation reported that the total estimated Palestinian death toll from the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza via land and sea was close to 10,000 at the time of this publication, including over 2,000 people missing beneath the debris of demolished residential buildings. Given how long it has been since they were targeted and how poorly recovery efforts have gone thus far, their chances of survival are significantly reduced.
With great gravity, Euro-Med Monitor has been monitoring Israel’s shutting down of all phone and Internet services in the Gaza Strip—which occurred Friday night—ostensibly to cover its atrocities against civilians. Euro-Med Monitor has lost all communication with its team inside the Gaza Strip due to this loss of services, which also affects all international relief organisations and UN agencies and renders ambulance and rescue crew operations within the Strip impossible.
UN humanitarian coordinator Lynn Hastings said that hospitals and humanitarian operations “can’t continue without communications”, particularly alongside a lack of energy, food, water, and medications. UNICEF and the World Health Organisation also announced that they had lost touch with their staff in Gaza, while the Palestine Red Crescent Society expressed its concern about its ability to provide emergency medical services under these circumstances.
Since the beginning of the unprecedented military assault, the majority of the communications infrastructure in the Gaza Strip has been destroyed, making it much harder to access the Internet there. Gazan residents had already experienced about a 90% drop in communications as a result of this, but on Friday evening, Palestinian telephone services company Paltel announced that the ongoing Israeli bombing had destroyed “all remaining communications between Gaza and the outside world”, leading to a complete interruption of communications and Internet services.
Euro-Med Monitor vehemently denounced Israel’s intentional bombing of civilian communications infrastructure, which has caused severe power outages, denial of Internet access, suppression of local media, and the targeting of journalists. Thirty-four journalists have been killed, some of whom were targeted in their homes along with their families.
In another dangerous development, the Israeli army warned international news organisations Reuters and Agence France-Presse that it cannot guarantee the safety of their journalists operating in the Gaza Strip, and that Israel’s attacks may cause damage to surrounding buildings.
Euro-Med Monitor concluded that severing Internet and communication links, as well as directly endangering journalists after imposing restrictions on their work, is a means of hiding the reality of the unfolding events in Gaza. The severing of Gaza’s ability to communicate with the outside world, said the organisation, constitutes human rights abuses and war crimes against civilians.
The statement by Euro-Med Monitor also said that it is common knowledge that the Israeli escalation, which now includes the start of ground invasion operations, is accompanied by its ongoing imposition of a complete closure of the Gaza Strip and cutting off of fuel, electricity, water, and other supplies necessary for humanitarian relief, which poses a threat of a comprehensive humanitarian catastrophe.
Based on Euro-Med Monitor’s data, 7,819 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the Israeli attack on Gaza, including 3,316 children and infants, 1,907 women, and 7,009 civilians in total. Approximately 19,715 more people have been injured.
Deaths in Gaza have been the result of heavy bombing that has also destroyed or devastated entire residential blocks and neighborhoods. 43,200 housing units have been completely destroyed, said Euro-Med Monitor, while 131,300 housing units have been partially damaged; 107 health facilities, 471 industrial facilities, 99 schools, 85 press offices, 39 mosques, and three churches have also been targeted.
Euro-Med Monitor warned that Israel is escalating its retaliatory policies and genocidal approach through the widespread destruction of the basic infrastructure in Gaza, which appears to be part of its forced displacement plan and is in violation of international humanitarian law.
Israel must immediately put an end to its disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Gaza, said the rights group, and restore Internet and communications infrastructure so that rescue teams and relief organisations can carry out their life-saving operations.
According to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, mothers, fathers, and children in Gaza are experiencing a greater degree of sadness, terror, darkness, and isolation than ever before. The international community must act immediately to stop all of this, in order to preserve what remains of the standards of humanity and the very idea of human rights itself.