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Israel must end indefensible assault on Gaza

25 October 2023

Minority Rights Group is deeply concerned by the growing danger of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza. We condemn the organized operation of hostage taking and extrajudicial killings of Israeli civilians that occurred on 7 October 2023. However, these actions cannot be used to justify the Israeli government’s mass scale retaliation and collective punishment against Palestinians – the latest act in an ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign that has spanned decades and continues to escalate.

Genocidal rhetoric and dehumanizing statements by Israeli government officials combined with the siege and indiscriminate bombing of Gaza have resulted in a fear of genocide amongst Palestinians. The Israeli government’s bombing of the historic Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza City, which was being used as a shelter, is yet another example of indiscriminate targeting of Palestinian civilians, including religious minorities.

The Israeli government must immediately halt its assault on Gaza. The deliberate denial of access to food, water, fuel and electricity constitutes inhumane treatment of civilians; these actions are illegal under international law. The denial of humanitarian access to civilians, and attacks on humanitarian workers, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, journalists, hospitals, churches and civilian buildings are strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We reject the unconditional support of many states for the Israeli government’s actions. We urge states to refrain from legitimizing these actions in the name of security and counterterrorism, as this feeds a harmful propaganda machine. Deeply rooted issues caused by Israel’s occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people and the denial of their right to self-determination have contributed to protracted human rights violations.

Minority Rights Group calls for:

  • An immediate ceasefire, an end to the indiscriminate targeting of civilian properties and the release of all hostages.
  • Facilitation of unimpeded humanitarian access that meets the needs of civilians.
  • The United Nations to launch an independent investigation into the violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including those that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide, with a view to ensure accountability.
  • An end to 16 years of siege on the Gaza strip.
  • An end to Israeli apartheid, the occupation and dispossession of Palestinian lands and homes, the unjust incarcerations and the violence Palestinians are subjected to daily.

Photo:A Palestinian boy inspects the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, 19 October 2023. Credit: Mohammed Saber/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.