This statement was published October 11, 2023. It has been updated October 16
DIGNITY is horrified by the killing of civilians and hostage taking by Palestinian armed groups, and Israel’s massive bombing and complete siege of Gaza. We are alarmed by the rapidly rising civilian death toll and the escalating humanitarian emergency in Gaza.
The number of Palestinian civilians killed due to heavy Israeli Forces’ bombardment is increasing with every bomb. As of most recent numbers, almost half of victims are women and children. According to UNRWA, more than one million people, almost half the population of Gaza, have been displaced. The access to clean drinking water is severely limited, and electricity has been cut for several days, adding to the impending humanitarian catastrophe.
The deliberate, disproportionate, and indiscriminate attacks on civilians that we have seen since October 7 may constitute war crimes.
And yet, as the crisis reaches its tenth day, many in the international community have failed in their responsibilities to protect and ensure protection of civilians in Gaza. Atrocities are unfolding by the hour against the backdrop of deafening silence of many European Union Member States. The lack of concerted action from the European Union and the UN Security Council to protect civilian life risks gravely undermining the credibility of these institutions and the system of rule of law on which they are built.
The escalating violence and spiraling death toll cannot be detached from decades of occupation and repression of the Palestinian people and the failure to ensure a viable solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.
The only path to sustainable peace is to address the root causes of the conflict.
The laws of war apply to all parties to the conflict. Israeli security forces and Palestinian armed groups must respect the Geneva Conventions, and ensure that civilians are protected from murder, torture, and other inhuman treatment. DIGNITY urges the international community to demand that all parties strictly adhere to international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Civilian populations must always be protected against indiscriminate attacks. Victims must be guaranteed redress and perpetrators must be brought to justice.
DIGNITY continues to stand ready to lend its expertise and support efforts to provide mental health and psycho-social and medical support to the victims. We are also committed to assisting in the documentation of torture, inhuman treatment, and other war crimes to ensure justice for the survivors and to assist in holding the perpetrators to account for their international crimes.
We urge the Danish government, the European Union, and the international community to call for an immediate cease of all indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian objects, and the opening of a humanitarian corridor to ensure humanitarian aid supplies including food, water, and medicine into Gaza. In addition, as a human rights organisation which, together with civil society organisations in Israel and Palestine, has been engaged in fighting torture and rehabilitating the survivors of torture for 30 years, we are deeply concerned about the prospects of cutting international aid. We call on the international donor community to ensure continued humanitarian aid and longer-term support to the civilian population as well as support to ensure justice and accountability.