Geneva – Expressing grave concern for the lives and safety of Palestinian civilians, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor stated that Israel has intensified its large-scale ground attack on the Gaza Strip over the past few days, amid continued air attacks since 7 October.
The Geneva-based human rights group warned of a bloodbath in Gaza’s streets, citing the indiscriminate artillery shelling attacks and the destruction of homes and residential neighborhoods in the region, along with the ground incursion of Israeli tanks and military vehicles.
Euro-Med Monitor emphasised that the laws of war require the Israeli army to protect all civilians and those unable to escape areas under military operations, and that the mass killing of civilians is a war crime.
The Israeli army initiated extensive ground operations in the Gaza Strip on 28 October. This morning, the army announced an expansion of its ground operations, declaring that 600 attacks had been launched by Israel against different targets in the Strip.
The most recent Israeli escalation came after more than three weeks of intense air attacks on the Gaza Strip, Euro-Med Monitor said. More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed or reported missing during the attacks, the vast majority of whom were civilians, mostly children and women.
Israel’s attacks have turned entire residential neighbourhoods into rubble and ruin, Euro-Med Monitor added, while its ground attack increases serious concerns about the safety of civilians caught in the midst of indiscriminate attacks.
Euro-Med Monitor’s team has documented multiple cases of deep cracks in the skin of the hands and bodies of Palestinian citizens and rescue workers who came into contact with corpses and rubble, due to dangerous chemicals used in Israeli rockets and missiles,
The human rights organisation warned that Israel’s escalation of its retaliatory policies and genocidal approach, through its widespread destruction of Gaza’s basic civilian infrastructure, appears to be part of a plan for forced displacement and transfer and is in violation of international humanitarian law.
Euro-Med Monitor further stressed that international humanitarian law stipulates that the protection of civilians is obligatory in all cases and under any circumstances, and that killing civilians is considered a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts, and may amount to a crime against humanity.
“The attack or bombardment of towns, villages, habitations or buildings which are not defended” is prohibited by Article 25 of the Hague Regulations relating to the laws and customs of land warfare, said Euro-Med Monitor. Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that, “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organisations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”
According to Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the destruction of property that is not justified by military necessity, and when carried out on a large scale constitutes a grave breach that requires prosecution. Such practices are also considered to be war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, said Euro-Med Monitor.
According to the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, Israel must immediately stop its disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Gaza, including its air and artillery strikes as well as its ground incursions. Israel must also open safe humanitarian corridors to allow the entry of fuel, food, medicine, and other necessary supplies to save the lives of thousands of people who are in danger of dying, said the organisation.
Euro-Med Monitor urged the international community to take decisive action to end to the ongoing war of genocide, and to work toward achieving justice for the victims by bolstering legal accountability frameworks and ending the policy of impunity, which has long been the root of all violence that has been occurring in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The statement by Euro-Med Monitor went on to emphasise that the powerful Western nations bear double the responsibility for enabling the Israeli military to attack Palestinian civilians and disregarding the laws of war, which include explicit guidelines protecting human life and humanitarian concerns. These nations have even covered up the acts committed by the Israeli military in international fora, preventing their condemnation, as recently as today.