7 November 2023
Date: 7 November 2023
Today marks an unfathomable toll in Israel’s revengeful military campaign against Gaza: over the past month, the Ministry of Health reported that more than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including over 4,000 children. Overall, more than two-thirds of Palestinians killed in Gaza since 7 October are children, women and elderly. The number of Palestinian children killed in Gaza in one month far exceeds the annual number of children killed in conflict zones around the world since 2019. As we write, there are thousands of Palestinians still trapped under debris, including around 1,300 children, most of whom are presumed dead. Some 24,000 Palestinians in Gaza were also injured over the same period, many of whom are in critical condition, while Gaza's collapsed healthcare system is unable to take care of them.
According to our field monitoring—which is severely limited as most of our staff have been displaced and/or lost their homes due to Israeli attacks—the overwhelming majority of Israeli attacks have targeted civilians and civilian objects, as their severity continues to increase. In the early days of the ongoing assault, Israeli airstrikes were mostly targeting residential buildings with their occupants still inside. In recent weeks, the Israeli military went further, bombing and destroying entire neighborhoods and residential blocks completely disregarding hundreds of civilians residing therein, in a blatant violation of the international humanitarian law principles of distinction, necessity and proportionality.
The most glaring example of this apparent policy and pattern of attacks conducted by Israeli forces are the attacks that hit a residential neighborhood in the Jabaliya refugee camp with a series of missiles on 30 October 2023. The attack resulted in the total destruction of at least 20 housing units with their residents inside and inflicted severe damage on dozens of other residential homes. The attack reportedly killed 150 Palestinians and injured 200 others, while hundreds remain missing under the rubble, according to our preliminary field documentation. Shellings and bombardments on the residential areas of the camp were repeated in the following days as well, causing extensive destruction and claiming more victims. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Gaza, the number of people killed, injured, and missing in these airstrikes exceeded a thousand Palestinians.
Further evidence of the utterly indiscriminate nature of Israeli attacks is the fact that more than 260,000 housing units—about 50 percent of Gaza's total housing stock—have been either destroyed or damaged or rendered uninhabitable as a result of Israeli attacks. In particular, a significant portion of the affected housing units are located within densely populated Palestinian refugee camps inhabited by refugees who are once again experiencing forced displacement, a condition they have endured repeatedly since the 1948 Nakba.
The facts on the ground are abundantly clear: nowhere in Gaza is safe.
On 26 October 2023, Israeli forces began the ground invasion. On 29 October, ground operations were extended to three main areas: northern Gaza, northwest Gaza, and southeast Gaza. The invasion is conducted amid intense artillery shelling, widespread destruction of civilian objects and fierce clashes with Palestinian resistance factions. As a result of the ground invasion, the Salah al-Din road, which connects all five Gaza districts, was barred by Israeli troops, thus isolating Gaza City and the northern Gaza from the rest of the Strip. This hindered the movement of civilian populations and vehicles moving southward, as Israeli forces targeted many vehicles, including ambulances, causing civilian casualties and injuries.
According to our preliminary monitoring, there are hundreds of injured Palestinians in critical condition, including amputees and even persons with very serious burns. Due to the total closure and blockade imposed by the Israeli authorities and the limited delivery of medical supplies and humanitarian aid, which did not reach hospitals in northern Gaza, medical teams face tremendous difficulties in dealing with these cases. UN OCHA reported that on 2 and 3 November, 84 injured Palestinians were allowed to travel to Egypt to receive treatment along with 66 companions, after nearly three weeks from the beginning of the military offensive.
As we write, 14 out of 35 Gaza hospitals have stopped functioning and 51 out of 72 primary care facilities across Gaza have shut down due to damage from direct or indirect attacks or lack of fuel. Out of the 102 attacks on health recorded by the World Health Organization (WHO), 83 were in the Gaza and North Gaza districts. Among the hospitals that have announced the suspension of their operations due to lack of fuel and electricity is the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, the only hospital in all of Gaza that provides treatment to cancer patients. On 2 November 2023, the MOH announced the deaths of four cancer patients due to lack of access to adequate medical care in Gaza.
The Israeli military offensive has caused the largest mass displacement of Palestinians in such a short period of time since the 1948 Nakba: around 1,500,000 Palestinians, or about 65 percent of Gaza's population, are now internally displaced inside Gaza. Their displacement has been caused by Israeli ‘evacuation orders’ and relentless bombardments from air, land, and sea. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced more than once because of the incessant Israeli attacks that chase them from place to place in every area of the Gaza Strip. As we write, the threat of mass forced displacement into Egypt and ethnic cleansing of more than two million Palestinians lingers imminent.
What is happening in Gaza represents one of the darkest pages and unprecedented level of suffering in the history of the Palestinian people. More than two million Palestinians are on the verge of starvation and thirst, with thousands struggling to access basic necessities such as bread and water. In Gaza, people wait in line for up to six hours at the very few operational bakeries, as many have been bombed or closed due to lack of fuel, electricity or flour. Some queues at bakeries have even become targets of Israeli attacks, reflecting inhumane attempts to exacerbate the suffering and hunger of the population. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have difficulty accessing clean water, not to mention water for personal hygiene. Many are forced to consume contaminated water, putting their health at risk.
As of November 6, the number of aid trucks—containing mainly food, medicine, medical supplies, bottled water and hygiene products, but no fuel as dictated by Israel—that have entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt since 21 October has averaged less than 34 trucks per day. Before 7 October, an average of 500 trucks entered Gaza each working day through the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings. Not only is this amount of aid vastly inadequate to meet the needs of a 2 million civilian population to whom Israel has been denying access to water, food, electricity, fuel and medications since 9 October, but no aid has been distributed in northern Gaza, including Gaza City, which hosts Gaza's largest medical complexes, including Al-Shifa and Al-Quds hospitals.
In parallel to the atrocious violations in Gaza, Israeli forces and settlers have intensified their crimes and violations in the West Bank. According to Al-Haq’s preliminary documentation, attacks by settlers or Israeli forces between 7 October and 6 November 2023 killed 158 Palestinians, including 46 children, and injured 2,300 others, of whom 40 are in critical condition. Moreover, OCHA reports that at least 905 Palestinians, including 356, children from over 15 herding or Bedouin communities have been forcibly displaced because of Israeli settler violence and increased movement restrictions.
The number of Palestinians detainees in the Israeli mass arrest campaigns carried out in the West Bank and targeted all segments of society has risen to over 2,200 Palestinians, as of the morning of 7 November 2023. Shocking testimonies have emerged regarding the brutal acts of torture and inhumane treatment inflicted upon them, all amid a deafening silence from the international community that amounts to complicity.
Al Mezan, Al-Haq, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) emphasize that the Palestinian people in Gaza are facing imminent genocide, as well as mass forced displacement and ethnic cleansing. To prevent these events from unfolding, it is imperative that the international community take immediate action to stop Israel's revengeful military campaign against Gaza, prevent the attempted forced displacement of Palestinians, and end all Israeli crimes committed against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line.
The international community must also ensure the immediate, continuous, sufficient and unimpeded provision of humanitarian aid, including fuel, and distribute it equitably to all civilians in Gaza. Any humanitarian intervention must include the entry of fuel and sufficient quantities of water, food and medical supplies to be distributed throughout Gaza, including the north, where the major hospitals are located, to mitigate the current humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israeli policies of collective punishment against Gaza civilians. States must pressure Israel to permit the immediate and unconditional transfer of patients from Gaza to receive medical treatment outside the Strip, including through Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings.
Israel’s crimes and atrocities against the Palestinian people must cease immediately and must never be repeated. To this end, the international community must not only hold Israel and the Israeli authorities accountable, but must also dismantle Israel’s settler-colonial and apartheid regime and ensure that all discriminatory and inhumane laws, policies and practices against the Palestinian people are abolished once and for all. The international community must also urge Israel to withdraw immediately and unconditionally from the occupied Palestinian territory and enable the Palestinian people to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and return to their homes from which they were forcibly expelled in 1948.
As the death toll in Gaza exceeds 10,000 in a month, Palestinian organizations call for an immediate end to Israel’s genocidal warfare against Palestinians
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Urgent international intervention is needed to protect Palestinians in northern Gaza
Unconditional humanitarian aid must be allowed to enter immediately, in sufficient quantity, and be distributed equitably to all civilians across Gaza
EU leadership must put an end to its double standards and complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people