Geneva - SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties stated that the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People comes at a difficult time for Palestinians, especially the residents of the Gaza Strip, who are facing acts of genocide and systematic forced displacement. This is happening amidst the near-complete absence of major international bodies and United Nations mechanisms towards the massacres targeting women, children, and civilian infrastructure.
The organization further stated in its statement that despite the United Nations declaration of November 29th of each year as an international occasion to celebrate solidarity with the Palestinian people, the Palestinian territories and their residents continue to witness acts of genocide and repeated massacres carried out by the Israeli army for the past 50 days, in full view of the world and its international bodies, without these countries taking any real stance or action to stop these crimes.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of November 23rd, over 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza have become internally displaced, including over a million internally displaced persons residing in various shelters managed by UNRWA. The actions on the ground, along with explicit calls from the Israeli leadership for ethnic cleansing in Gaza and the recent statement by Defense Minister Gantz that once the "humanitarian ceasefire" ends, the Israeli army will resume intensive fighting for at least another two months, raise concerns about either the potential mass deportation of civilian populations in Gaza to Egypt or the permanent transfer of civilians from northern Gaza to its southern parts. Both scenarios constitute clear violations of international law.
A number of United Nations experts announced today that the grave violations committed by Israel against Palestinians following the attack on October 7th, particularly in Gaza, indicate the occurrence of genocide. Convincing evidence has been presented regarding the escalation of incitement to genocide, the explicit intent to "permanently eliminate the occupied Palestinian people," the explicit calls for a "second Nakba" in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories, and the use of powerful weapons with indiscriminate effects resulting in significant loss of life and the destruction of vital infrastructure. The experts also sounded the alarm regarding the escalating violence by armed soldiers and settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Since October 7th, 2023, at least 190 Palestinians have been killed, and over 2,700 others have been injured, with more than 1,100 people displaced in the occupied West Bank. On November 9th, the Israeli forces launched a second attack on the Jenin refugee camp using heavy artillery and airstrikes, resulting in the death of at least 14 Palestinians. The increasing coercive environment has also led to the forced displacement of several herding and Bedouin communities from the Jordan Valley and southern Hebron Hills.
On October 15th, 2023, over 800 researchers and practitioners in international law and conflict studies specializing in genocide issued a statement sounding the alarm about the possibility of the Israeli forces committing the crime of genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. They emphasized that they did not make this statement lightly but recognized the gravity of such a crime and the urgency of the current situation.
Among the signatories are prominent scholars of Holocaust and genocide studies, as well as several scholars of international law and TWAIL., the Third World approaches to international law."
SAM highlighted that it has been monitoring, since the first day of the Israeli army's military operation against the Gaza Strip, acts of genocide committed against civilians. The Israeli aggression has resulted in the killing of approximately 20,000 civilians, including 8,176 children and 4,112 individuals. It is noted that around 40% of the victims are women and children, most of whom were killed inside their homes. The Israeli army reportedly bombed houses, targeting civilian populations, without warning or adhering to the rules of international law that prohibit attacks on civilian objects.
The Israeli occupation army has indeed worked on displacing the residents of northern Gaza as part of its policy of comprehensive destruction of life in the area. Despite the "humanitarian ceasefire" in Gaza, it appears that Israel does not intend to allow internally displaced Palestinians to return to their homes and continues to restrict access to humanitarian aid for the remaining people in the north. In reality, the recent aid that reached northern Gaza during the "humanitarian ceasefire" is largely insufficient compared to the scale of damage inflicted on civilian infrastructure due to Israeli attacks, especially hospitals, and the humanitarian crisis experienced by thousands of civilians who remain there.
In this context, the organization points out that the genocidal crimes committed against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are the latest among hundreds of massacres perpetrated against the Palestinian people since the Nakba of 1948, which has reached 531 massacres. It emphasizes that these crimes will not be the last as long as the world remains content with the role of bystander to these atrocities.
During the years 1947 and 1948, the Israeli occupation carried out several massacres that resulted in the killing of 15,000 Palestinians, the displacement of 950,000 out of 1.4 million, and the destruction of 531 Palestinian villages out of 1,300 villages and towns.
The numbers indicate that the behavior of the Israeli army relies on causing significant harm to Palestinian civilians through repeated acts of genocide in Palestinian territories. However, the current observation, particularly within the Gaza Strip, shows that the scope of these crimes is expanding and becoming more dangerous, particularly in terms of targeting civilian objects such as hospitals, places of worship, and residential neighborhoods, which are afforded special protection under international law.
SAM organization has documented during the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip the Israeli army's resort to a scorched-earth policy by completely erasing residential neighborhoods under the pretext of targeting military objectives. This has resulted in the annihilation of entire families and their permanent removal from civil records. The organization has also documented the use of internationally banned weapons, such as white phosphorus, which was used to bombard displaced persons' centers in multiple areas, especially in northern Gaza, including schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). There has been a lack of strong stance from the United Nations regarding the targeting of its facilities and the civilians present inside them.
SAM emphasizes the importance of recognizing the legal crime of ethnic cleansing perpetrated against the Palestinian people and the organized campaigns of genocide carried out by Israel as an occupying state in the past and continuing to the present day. This recognition is crucial in creating the appropriate political ground for finding a just solution for the Palestinian people, which entails establishing their independent state where Palestinians can live freely and securely, and where future generations can grow up on their own land.
The international organization confirms that international humanitarian law stipulates the protection of civilians and considers it obligatory in all circumstances and under any conditions. The killing of civilians is deemed a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts, and it may rise to the level of a crime against humanity. Article 25 of the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land explicitly prohibits "attacks or bombardments of cities, towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended." According to Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the destruction of property not justified by military necessity and extensive violations are considered serious breaches that require prosecution. Such practices are also considered war crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
SAM calls on the United Nations, states, and relevant powers to exert full pressure on Israel to immediately stop the genocidal crimes against civilians. It urges them to ensure Israel's cessation of military operations and the opening of all closed border crossings to guarantee the flow of medical, food, and logistical supplies to the Gaza Strip.
The organization also calls for immediate international action to compel Israel to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law (laws of war), including the protection of civilians. This entails putting an end to its aggression and disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks, as well as ceasing the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure. The international community bears full responsibility for the escalation of crimes against civilians in the Gaza Strip due to its continued passive and weak stance in the face of the genocidal crimes taking place in the region.