Protection of civilians in Gaza and Israel must be top priority

ACT EU policy officer Mélina Chaput against a white background
By Mélina Chaput
10 October 2023
A bomb falls on Gaza
NGOs are calling for an immediate ceasefire in and near Gaza, after a surprise attack by Hamas and subsequent Israeli retaliation killed hundreds of civilians.

On Saturday, October 7th, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, firing thousands of rockets from the blockaded Gaza Strip into Israeli towns and villages. It was the group’s biggest attack in years. Israel responded with a wave of air strikes on the territory, heavily bombing the densely populated area. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has declared a state of war.

The escalation of violence has caused unspeakable human suffering for both Palestinians and Israelis.

So far, thousands of people have been wounded, and the death toll is rising. To date, according to UN OCHA, more than 900 Israelis have been killed by Hamas militants, and numerous others captured as hostages. More than 700 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military in Gaza and the West Bank.

There is no justification for the crimes committed by Hamas forces during their military incursion. Killing civilians, taking and mistreating hostages, and executing captured soldiers amount to war crimes.

The EU and US must hold Israel to account

The international community – and the EU and US government in particular – bear a heavy responsibility for the deteriorating situation. For years, they’ve fallen short in ensuring Israel is held to account for its severe breaches of human rights and international humanitarian law.

Catholic NGO network CIDSE and ACT Alliance EU urge the EU and US governments to:

  1. Call upon the parties to immediately reach a cessation of all hostilities and an end to the siege on the Gaza Strip.
  2. Call upon the parties to live up to their obligations under international humanitarian law and protect civilians.
  3. Ensure accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.
  4. Urge the EU to maintain and increase humanitarian support to the affected population in Gaza. This includes the establishment of immediate humanitarian access to the most affected populations.

Read the full statement.

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