Israel/OPT: 16 humanitarian organisations call for halt to arms transfers to Israel and Palestinian armed groups
Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children and others issue bleak warning over ‘situation of utter desperation inside Gaza’
Experts to conduct online media briefing at 3pm (UK) today
‘Gaza today is the most dangerous place to be a child, a journalist and an aid worker’
Sixteen leading humanitarian and human rights groups have called for a halt to transfers of arms and military equipment to Israel and Palestinian armed groups to prevent further fuelling the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The 16 organisations - Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the Children, War Child Alliance, Médecins du Monde International Network, Plan International, Christian Aid, Norwegian Refugee Council, Center for Civilians in Conflict, Danish Refugee Council, Federation Handicap International, Norwegian People’s Aid, Medico International, American Friends Service Committee, Mennonite Central Committee and Diakonia - have co-signed the following statement:
“We call on all states to immediately halt the transfer of weapons, parts and ammunition to Israel and Palestinian armed groups while there is risk they are used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law.
“Israel’s bombardment and siege are depriving the civilian population of the basics to survive and rendering Gaza uninhabitable. Today, the civilian population in Gaza faces a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented severity and scale.
“Furthermore, Palestinian armed group-led attacks killed around 1,200 people and took hundreds of Israeli and foreign hostages, including children, and continue to hold more than 130 hostages captive inside Gaza. Armed groups in Gaza have continued to indiscriminately fire rockets toward population centres in Israel, disrupting school for children, displacing and threatening the lives and well-being of civilians. Hostage-taking and indiscriminate attacks are violations of international humanitarian law and must end immediately.
“Humanitarian agencies, human rights groups, UN officials, and more than 153 member states have called for an immediate ceasefire. However, Israel continues to use explosive weapons and munitions in densely-populated areas with massive humanitarian consequences for the people of Gaza. World leaders have urged the Israeli government to reduce civilian casualties, yet Israeli military operations in Gaza continue to kill people at unprecedented levels, according to recent remarks by the UN Secretary-General. Member states have a legal responsibility to use all possible tools to leverage better protection of civilians and adherence to international humanitarian law. Gaza’s remaining lifeline - an internationally-funded humanitarian aid response - has been paralysed by the intensity of the hostilities, which have included the shooting of aid convoys, recurrent communications blackouts, damaged roads, restrictions on essential supplies, an almost complete ban on commercial supplies and a bureaucratic process to send aid into Gaza.
“Israel’s military activity has destroyed a substantial portion of Gaza’s homes, schools, hospitals, water infrastructure, shelters and refugee camps; the indiscriminate nature of these bombings and a pattern of apparently disproportionate civilian harm they routinely cause, is unacceptable. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned of the “heightened risk of atrocity crimes” being committed in Gaza and called on all states to prevent such crimes from unfolding. Since this call, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has only deteriorated further:
• More than 25,000 Palestinians, at least 10,000 of them children, have been killed in less than four months, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. Thousands more are buried under the rubble and presumed dead.
• More than 62,000 people have been injured, many with life-changing injuries that will leave them with permanent disabilities; these include more than 1,000 Palestinian children who have lost one or more of their upper or lower limbs.
• An unknown number of Palestinian civilians, reportedly including children, have been unlawfully detained, according to the UN, and must be released.
• Palestinians continue to be killed nearly every day in areas the Israeli government told them to flee to. In the first week of 2024, an Israeli airstrike killed 14 people - the majority children - near an area Israeli forces prescribed as a “humanitarian zone”.
• More than 85% of Gaza’s population, around 1.9 million people, has been forcibly displaced. Many followed Israeli-issued orders to relocate south and are now being squeezed into tiny pockets of land that cannot sustain human life, which have become a breeding ground for the spread of disease.
• More than half of a million Palestinians in Gaza face starvation and more than 90% of the population faces acute food insecurity, the highest proportion ever recorded by a humanitarian body responsible for making evidence-based assessments of food insecurity.
• More than 70% of Gaza’s homes, much of its schools, and its water and sanitation infrastructure have been destroyed or damaged, leaving the population with almost no access to clean water.
• Not a single medical facility in the enclave is fully operational and those partially functioning are overwhelmed with trauma cases and shortages of medical supplies and doctors. More than 300 health workers have been killed.
• At least 167 aid workers in Gaza have been killed, the highest of any conflict in this century.
“Gaza today is the most dangerous place to be a child, a journalist and an aid worker. Hospitals and schools should never become battlegrounds. These conditions have created a situation of utter desperation inside Gaza, leading top aid officials to declare that there are no longer the conditions for a meaningful humanitarian response in Gaza. This will not change until the siege, the bombardment and the fighting ends. The UN recently described humanitarian access in January so far as a “significant deterioration.” Israeli forces have repeatedly denied permission for aid convoys to reach areas north of Wadi Gaza where people are at the highest risk of starvation.
“In recent weeks, high-ranking Israeli officials have begun calling for the deportation of Palestinian civilians out of Gaza. The forcible transfer within Gaza and deportation of a portion of the population across borders, lacking any guarantees of return, would constitute a serious violation of international law, amounting to an atrocity crime.
“We demand an immediate ceasefire and call on all states to halt the transfer of weapons that can be used to commit violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The UN Security Council must fulfil its responsibility to maintain global peace and security by adopting measures to halt the transfer of weapons to the Government of Israel and Palestinian armed groups, and prevent the supply of arms that risk being used in the commission of international crimes, effective immediately.
“All states have the obligation to prevent atrocity crimes and promote adherence to norms that protect civilians. The international community is long overdue to live up to these commitments.”
Online briefing details
Speakers will include:
Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser, Amnesty International
Sandrine Simon, Advocacy and Health Director, Médecins du Monde/Doctors of the World
Alex Abu Atta, Advocacy Advisor, War Child
Martin Butcher, Policy Advisor on Arms and Conflict, Oxfam International
Federico Dessi, Regional Director - Middle East Program, Handicap International - Humanity and Inclusion
Alexandra Saieh, Head of Humanitarian Policy & Advocacy, Save the Children International
John Chappell, Advocacy & Legal Fellow, Center for Civilians in Conflict
Samah Hadid, Head of Advocacy, Media & Communications for the Middle East & North Africa, Norwegian Refugee Council
William Bell, Head of Middle East Policy and Advocacy, Christian Aid
Meeting ID: 852 8704 8669