Palestinian Territory - The Israeli army is likely to carry out a fresh massacre in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, as it has recently initiated a new round of forced evacuation orders against the town’s estimated 50,000 residents. The United Nations and other international parties must take immediate action to protect Palestinian civilians.

After declaring Beit Lahia to be a “dangerous combat zone” and threatening to “act with extreme force”, the Israeli army has started to launch heavy air and artillery attacks on the town, followed by fresh evacuation orders.

Israel’s army said it had set up shelters for Beit Lahia residents, instructing them to evacuate towards shelters in blocks 1770 and 1766. These shelters, however, are known to be areas that have already been destroyed by Israeli airstrikes and rendered unfit for any form of life, as they lack water supply as well as functioning sewage systems.

The two designated evacuation points are unsafe areas and, like all areas of Beit Lahia, in particular, and the whole northern Gaza Strip, have previously been subjected to widespread destruction. Israel has targeted areas including shelter centres and public facilities as part of its genocide against Palestinians in the Strip, ongoing since 7 October 2023.

On account of Israel’s crime of genocide and its forced displacement policy in the Gaza Strip, every area designated by the Israeli army as a military operation area since October has completely destroyed and subjected to a strict and oppressive siege, and its residents have been horrifically massacred. The surviving residents of these areas are left with nowhere safe to flee.

In the absence of strong international accountability mechanisms and any swift international action to put an end to these crimes, which Israel has been committing for six months, the military operation that the Israeli army has launched in Beit Lahia will likely result in additional serious crimes and violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

The town of Beit Lahia has seen multiple large-scale military operations by the Israeli army during the past seven months of its military assault on the Gaza Strip. One such operation occurred at the end of December 2023 and resulted in extensive damage to homes, infrastructure, and civil and service facilities, with approximately 90% of the town’s buildings and infrastructure being destroyed by Israel’s army.

The current Beit Lahia military operation began on the 200th day of the massive military assault on the Gaza Strip, which has had horrific consequences due to Israel’s direct and deliberate targeting of Palestinian civilians, amid a shameful degree of international inaction. The international community has failed to push Israel to abide by international humanitarian law and the orders of the International Court of Justice to prevent its crime of genocide.

The Israeli army has killed 42,510 Palestinians over the course of its 200-day genocide, 38,621 of whom were civilians, including 10,091 women and 15,780 children. There are still several thousand individuals who are dead under the rubble, while thousands more remain missing. Based on these data, the daily death toll for Palestinians has reached 212, including 50 women and 79 children. These are horrifying statistics in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as other current conflicts.

Euro-Med Monitor teams have documented thousands of specific crimes in which the Israeli army has targeted Palestinian civilians without necessity or proportionality. These crimes include bombing homes and shelters on the heads of their residents, extrajudicial executions, and indiscriminate bombing with the intention of intimidating.

The international community must break its silence now and take all necessary action to end the massacre in Beit Lahia and shield the Palestinian people from further harm, given the horrific crimes being committed across the Gaza Strip, which include murders, executions, arbitrary detentions, torture, forced disappearances, and forced displacement. It needs to uphold its legal obligations under international law and pressure Israel to immediately cease all acts of genocide against the people of Gaza and abide by the rulings of the International Court of Justice.

In order to avoid being complicit in the crimes committed in the Gaza Strip, including the crime of genocide, all nations should accept their international obligations and cease providing Israel with any kind of political, financial, or military support. In particular, arms transfers to Israel, including export permits and military aid, should be immediately stopped.