On Tuesday, humanitarian groups appealed for global assistance for Gaza amid Israel’s imposition of an additional blockade on the struggling region. While condemning the Hamas attacks on Israelis as “abhorrent,” experts cautioned that a total siege on the area would result in severe shortages of food, water, and electricity for millions of innocent civilians.
Representatives from refugee councils in the United Nations have expressed that the ongoing Israeli siege is yet another violation of international law by both parties involved in the conflict. This devastating situation has resulted in numerous fatalities and injuries since Saturday.
A complete blockade, according to Michael Lynk, former United Nations special rapporteur for the situation of human rights and the Palestinian territory, will have widespread impacts.
Gaza represents an ongoing humanitarian crisis, characterized by man-made disasters rather than natural calamities like earthquakes or typhoons.
According to experts, if there is a complete siege on Gaza, it will have an impact on the availability of essential resources such as food, water, electricity, medical supplies, and sewage treatment for the 2.3 million people living in the territory. The United Nations has stated that this blockade would go against international humanitarian law. However, experts have emphasized that without the international community taking action to enforce these laws, it will be the civilians who suffer the consequences.
Israel promises to impose a total blockade on the territory.
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Monday that authorities would fully cut off supplies to Gaza after Hamas militants launched a stunning attack on Israel Saturday.
Since the attack, civilians have suffered the consequences of the violence occurring on both sides of the conflict.
Hamas’s attack led to the death of over 1,000 Israelis and approximately 150 civilians and soldiers were held captive. Hamas warned of potential executions if Israel continued its airstrikes on Gaza without prior notice.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza reported on Tuesday that a minimum of 900 Palestinians have lost their lives due to the ongoing war. Moreover, significant areas in Gaza have been completely destroyed.
Numerous individuals have sustained injuries on both factions.
Since 2007, there has been an Israeli blockade in place, controlling the movement of people, goods, food, and water. Although Israel removed its military forces from the area in 2005 due to international pressure, they argue that the blockade is necessary for the protection of Israelis against Hamas.
“Israel controls everything that goes in and out of the Gaza Strip,” said Lynk, who visited Gaza periodically while he worked for the UN in Jerusalem.
He stated that in the event of a complete blockade, food supplies would deplete rapidly, resulting in the onset of starvation within a few days. Furthermore, he mentioned that approximately two-thirds of the Palestinian inhabitants in Gaza would face the consequences of the scarcity of drinkable water.
Lynk mentioned that the siege would also have an impact on sewage treatment, resulting in the presence of untreated sewage in the Gaza streets, potentially causing the spread of diseases.
He stated that there would be a worsening of “substantial deficiencies” in medical supplies and medications, leading to a severe “humanitarian crisis in healthcare.”
He mentioned that the healthcare providers and medical facilities will be extremely overburdened due to the large influx of patients and the lack of necessary resources such as staff, equipment, and medications to effectively treat them.
According to a spokesperson from a UN humanitarian office, approximately 187,500 individuals have been displaced from their residences in Gaza. On Tuesday, the Rafah crossing, which is the only exit point from the territory due to Israel’s presence and the Mediterranean Sea surrounding the rest of Gaza, was shut down.
The World Health Organization has urged for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to enable the transportation of fresh medical supplies into Gaza.
Organizations caution that “siege” could signify a complete catastrophe.
The head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, a global humanitarian organization, expressed concerns that the actions taken by the Israeli government on Monday would have devastating consequences for the civilian population residing in Gaza.
Jan Egeland stated in a phone interview with The Associated Press that there is unquestionable evidence of international law being violated by collective punishment.
“If such circumstances result in the loss of innocent lives, particularly children in hospitals due to insufficient energy, electricity, and resources, it could be considered as acts of war crimes.”
The International Criminal Court issued a statement on Tuesday announcing that its prosecutor is currently collecting information regarding the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The court’s primary objective is to investigate and prosecute individuals who are accused of committing severe crimes that are of great concern to the global community, such as crimes against humanity.
The secretary-general of the UN expressed strong disapproval for the attacks carried out by Hamas, describing them as “abhorrent”. However, he also expressed great concern over Israel’s blockade, stating that it deeply troubled him.
Antonio Guterres expressed his concern about the already severe humanitarian situation in Gaza, stating that it will worsen significantly due to the recent hostilities.
Although I acknowledge Israel’s valid security concerns, I must also emphasize that any military actions should adhere strictly to the principles of international humanitarian law.
Guterres urged for UN access to provide humanitarian assistance and appealed to international allies to back these endeavors.
Political determination is necessary in order to effectively enforce laws.
Lynk, who is also a professor emeritus at the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., says international humanitarian laws are only as strong as the international community’s resolve to enforce them.
“He stated that an efficient global court capable of effectively enforcing rights, which we believe are protected under international law, does not exist. International law represents the commitments made between countries,” he expressed.
The ultimate factor for accountability is not solely the law, but also the determination of the international community, and unfortunately, there has been very little of that.
The statement from a commission of inquiry appointed by the UN indicates that there is undeniable proof suggesting the possibility of war crimes committed by all parties involved in the conflict. The commission is actively gathering evidence to ensure that those responsible can be held legally accountable in the future.