London, 7th October 2023- Today’s events have not happened in isolation, but rather are the culmination of nearly a century of Palestinian oppression and dispossession, both individual and collective. An escalation in violence will not improve the situation for anyone, least of all for the Palestinian people who already live under apartheid rule and face daily violations of their human rights.
Gaza, a tiny sliver of land, has been under a comprehensive and illegal air, sea and land blockade. For years, over two million Palestinian have been cut off from the rest of the world, living in a dire and unsustainable situation.
Today’s desperate violence is the latest result of the decades long disregard of Palestinian rights and the unexamined impunity given to Israel by global powers asserting her right to defend herself and then not examining the proportionality and legality of those actions. This lack of accountability has been enabled by the international community’s prevailing culture of exceptionalism and impunity.
Israeli authorities have already begun their response to this escalation and their intent to take this to the next level could not be clearer. Netanyahu’s simple but direct words of “We are at war, we will win” and “this is not an operation” speak volumes about his viewpoint. He views this as an affront on Israeli pride in terms of security infrastructure, intelligence-gathering and frankly the dominance of the Palestinian people. Israeli reprisals have already begun, with a looming and foreboding certainty that it is likely to be devastating. As usual, innocent Palestinians will pay the greatest price. News outlets have reported that so far, 198 Palestinians have already been killed and 1610 injured. Unfortunately, this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.
Retaliation will not only take place against Palestinians in Gaza, but also Palestinians all across the territory, just as we witnessed in May 2021. We are already seeing clashes taking place at Israeli checkpoints and fear for what is yet to come for Palestinians everywhere and especially in areas surrounded by settlements. Increased settlement in the occupied West Bank as well as the brutal attacks on Jenin refugee camp earlier this year show how the situation in Gaza is not unique. Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territories are facing oppression and repression.
Only a few weeks ago, the thirty-year anniversary of the Oslo Accords was marked in a subdued manner, due to the failings of the peace process to protect Palestinian rights. The lack of a just solution and accountability for Israeli acts of aggression has created a perfect storm that will nearly inevitably lead to more violence. This is precisely the reason it is important for engagement and support for accountability, which at present is non-existent.
The Palestinian people have been abandoned by the international community. The rest of the world has failed to work to solve entrenched problems and protect Palestinian people’s human rights and now, yet again, lives will be lost due to that inaction. This should not be an excuse to further marginalise Palestinians but a catalyst for the international community to act with speed to resolve the situation in the region.
ICJP legal officer Dania Abul Haj said:
“Today’s events did not happen in isolation. The world removed accountability and the result, which no one wants, we are seeing unfold now. These events should haunt the conscience of the world that is complicit in Israeli crimes through their silence. Decades of subjugation and oppression cannot keep being faced with impunity for those responsible for the most heinous of crimes against the Palestinian people. Accountability now is more important than ever, otherwise, the price paid on all sides will be very high.”
Notes to Editors:
- The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.
- Francesca Albanese’s comments on the occupied Palestinian territories can be found here.
- For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson please contact: Jonathan Purcell, Public Affairs and Communications Officer, at [email protected]