An official joint statement document by ACT Alliance EU and CIDSE calling for the immediate cessation of all hostilities and protection of civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, dated 10 October 2023.

Call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel

ACT Alliance EU and CIDSE call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and protection of civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel

Brussels, 10 October 2024

On Saturday, October 7th, Hamas militants undertook an unprecedented large-scale attack on Israel. Israel responded with an attack on the Gaza Strip, heavily bombing the densely populated area. 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 were killed by Hamas militants and numerous captured as hostages, while 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, the taking of hostages and subjecting them to mistreatment, and the execution of captured soldiers amount to war crimes under the Rome statute and the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention.

Urgent call for cessation of hostilities and civilian protection

Similarly, the indiscriminate bombing and the intentional attacks against the Palestinian civilian population and infrastructure such as hospitals and schools by the Israeli army also amount to War Crimes while persecution, or collective punishment, amounts to a Crime Against Humanity under the Rome Statute.

All civilians must be protected in full compliance with international humanitarian law. CIDSE and ACT Alliance EU urge the EU, EU member states and US government to call the parties to declare an immediate cease-fire, lift the siege on Gaza and to strongly condemn all indiscriminate targeting of civilians regardless of the nationality they have. As we mourn the devastating impact of escalating violence, we must not forget the root causes that are sustaining this endless cycle of violence and human tragedy.

Addressing root causes

Sixteen years of blockade in Gaza has created a man-made humanitarian, social, and economic disaster, condemning generations of Gazans to a life that has been described as an open-air prison, devoid of hope and human dignity. Fifty-six years of military occupation, the annexation of Palestinian land, and systemic discrimination have led to severe daily violations of the fundamental rights of Palestinians.

The illegal settlements continue to expand, and settler violence has been surging, adding to the coercive environment that is instrumental to the dispossession and forced displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The changes to the status quo around the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif in East Jerusalem and violations of the right to worship have long fueled the flames in an extremely volatile situation.

The only path to sustainable peace with freedom, security and dignity for all people in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory is to address these root causes urgently and immediately.

International accountability in the Israel-Palestine conflict

The international community and the EU and US government in particular bear a heavy responsibility for the deteriorating situation. For years, they have failed to adequately hold Israel accountable for gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in accordance with their own third state obligations under International Law.

A biased approach toward the applicability of international law and accountability for violations undermines the rules-based international order and the universality of the value of human life. More generally such an approach is harmful, undermines any peace efforts and will only lead to more escalation and incitement. Governments must work for justice to ensure respect for the fundamental rights of all peoples and for their equality in dignity and rights. This is the only way to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

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
    including the establishment of immediate humanitarian access to the most affected populations.

Find out more about the work of ACT Alliance EU in the Middle East.