Image Credit: REUTERS / Mohammed Salem

For the Record: One week of human rights violations committed by Israel

Since before the 1948 Nakba which displaced 700,000 Palestinians, Zionist militants and Israeli occupation forces have committed countless human rights violations against the Palestinian people and Arab countries.

Recounting all these violations in one article is a practical impossibility, given the frequency of violations across decades of occupation and apartheid. However, we compile some of the most flagrant human rights violations committed by Israeli forces and settlers in the last seven days alone.

Common article three of the Geneva convention

Common Article Three of the Geneva Convention, supplemented by the Additional Protocols of 1977, applies to the current events and clearly states that warring parties should: distinguish between combatants and civilians, preserve civilian infrastructure, and refrain from harming medical staff and allow the passage of humanitarian aid, in addition to other obligations.

Israeli airstrikes have indeed violated all four of the abovementioned obligations. Residential neighborhoods, schools and educational institutions, including UN schools, were primary targets of airstrikes, which violates the obligations to preserve civilian infrastructure.

Israeli forces directly targeted ambulances, medical crews and paramedics delivering aid or performing various actions such as moving people killed in Gaza, which goes against the legal obligation to refrain from harming medical staff.

After announcing a complete siege of the city, Israeli forces also issued threats to Egypt and bombed the Rafah crossing point with Gaza so as to prevent the provision of supplies. Leaving Gazans under a situation of total siege, Israeli forces have indeed disallowed the passage of humanitarian aid, another violation of the Geneva Convention.

Gaza’s median age is 18, and half of its population is children. The ongoing indiscriminate bombing by Israeli forces fails to distinguish between combatants and civilians and has disproportionately affected the civilian population. 

This is supported by encouragement by Israeli politicians to treat all Palestinian people as terrorists, label them as “animals” and use overall dehumanizing terminology.

The devastation in Gaza is indescribable. Full neighborhoods have been flattened, whole families killed, and the city is bursting at its limits: the dead, too innumerable to be kept in hospitals, are having to be kept inside ice cream vans, according to members of the Red Crescent.

A siege on two million individuals, half of whom are children

Gaza has been under a blockade by Israeli forces before the current developments, and its socioeconomic situation was already in shambles before the escalation. 

However, two days into the conflict, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a complete siege of Gaza as Israeli forces cut off electricity, fuel and food from the city.

The siege is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law, a war crime, and a crime against humanity. It deprives the Gazan population of necessary food and adequate water supplies and electricity and fuel amidst crumbling healthcare systems in the context of recurrent bombing and a total blockade.

The call to evacuate northern Gaza

The Israeli army told more than one million Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate towards any points below Wadi Gaza, which is a large rural area with few facilities. 

The impossibility of such evacuation has been recognized across the world, with the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross, in addition to many others, denouncing the order.

The evacuation order could amount to forced displacement of civilians and to violations under the Rome Statute, but what is confirmed is that the order, both by itself and when coupled with the siege, violates international humanitarian law which protects all civilians.

Killing of journalists

Seven days into the fighting, and at least 11 journalists were killed in Gaza by Israeli attacks. 

Attacks intentionally targeting journalists and civilians constitute war crimes according to the Council of Europe. Many Palestinian journalists have reportedly announced that they are close to stopping working as a result of the ongoing genocide.

More recently, Israeli airstrike(s) killed Lebanese Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah in southern Lebanon, injuring four others. Early Saturday, journalist Christina Assi was announced to be in dire medical health via social media accounts by friends.

Such attacks form part of the efforts of Israeli occupation forces to silence pro-Palestinian voices, who are already on the receiving end of political, media and social media algorithmic dynamics oppressing their discourse.

Usage of white phosphorous

Human Rights Watch confirmed on Thursday the usage of internationally-forbidden white phosphorous gas in Gaza and Lebanon. The report highlighted how the use of such weaponry inflicts serious and long-term injury.

In a statement, the occupation’s military rebutted the claims, saying that the use of white phosphorous in Gaza “is unequivocally false.”

However, Human Rights Watch stated that it obtained and verified photographic and videographic evidencetaken in Lebanon on Oct. 10 and Gaza on Oct. 11 showing “multiple airbursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over the Gaza City port and two rural locations along the Israel-Lebanon border.”

What mainstream Western media and politicians have effectively done by staying silent on violations committed by Israeli forces is facilitate and provide a state impunity for the ongoing genocide against Palestinians.

So far, some organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and some politicians and media figures have highlighted these breaches and have condemned the ongoing occupation and its accompanying violence. However, full justice for those living under such circumstances remains absent.