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May 9, 2019

Today, as Israel celebrates Independence Day, latest figures totaling damages incurred during airstrikes earlier this week show that Israeli warplanes killed 27 Palestinians over the course of two days and injured 154 more, including three women, two of them pregnant, and two babies. The strikes destroyed 130 houses and partially damaged 700 more. This recent escalation of targeted attacks against civilians displaced 780 Palestinians, 44% of whom are children. One mosque, four medical facilities, five media houses, and 10 civil institutions were also damaged or destroyed.

Deliberately targeting journalists, health workers, women, children and infants is a war crime. A recent UN Commission of Inquiry report has already established that the killing of unarmed civilians during weekly demonstrations at the border over the last year likely constitutes war crimes.

While Israel prepares numerous festivities for both Independence Day and next week’s Eurovision Song Contest, world leaders continue to turn a blind eye to Israel’s unlawful occupation, protracted blockade, and persistent breaches of international law.

This week, both the U.S. and the EU have publicly supported Israel’s right to “defend itself”, demonstrating dangerous bias in their positions on the war:

  • Federica Mogherini, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief, called for “indiscriminate rocket attacks” from Gaza to stop but failed to call on Israel to stop its aggression towards civilians in Gaza.
  • U.S. President Trump weighed in on Twitter:“Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens” following the weekend’s response by Palestinian groups to the airstrikes, before the latest ceasefire kicked in on Monday.

Ibrahim Ibraigheth, ActionAid Palestine’s Country Director, said:  

Mr. Netanyahu is currently negotiating the formation of a new government following last month’s election, so now is the time for world leaders to make sure the new Government of Israel respects international law. War crimes, including the targeted killing of women, children, journalists and health workers cannot continue in broad daylight, unremarked on by countries which claim to represent freedom and justice.”

“The catastrophic living conditions in the Gaza Strip are unbearable. The Israeli blockade of health and sanitation supplies constitutes punishment policy and also clearly violates international law. The UN must step up and hold Israel to account for its flagrant violation of global agreements, otherwise hopes for this latest truce to hold are probably naive.” 

In the recent Commission of Inquiry by UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk in March 2019, on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Occupation, Israel was found to be in non-compliance with more than 40 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and more than 100 resolutions of the General Assembly.

As an occupying power, Israel is accountable to and must respect and uphold the rights of Palestinian people, including the right to freedom of movement, decent life, protection, education, work and self-determination.

Because of the danger of airstrikes targeting civilian infrastructure, ActionAid has once again had to pause its programs in Gaza. The organization supports the worst-affected communities in Gaza, where 97% of water is undrinkable, tainted by raw sewage, and unfit for human consumption. Israel controls the flow of fuel and supplies needed in Gaza to make the water safe.

Ibraigheth continues:  

“ActionAid supports partners, living and working in Gaza, by providing diesel to help pump clean water and ensure sewage can be treated. Being forced to stop this work is incredibly dangerous and could spell an outbreak of deadly diseases such as cholera.

“While Israel celebrates Independence and the world tunes into Eurovision, we’ll continue assisting Palestinian communities, despite conditions being dire and unnecessarily dangerous.” 

Israel’s blockade policy and targeting of civilians destroy lives and prevent progress. ActionAid calls on the EU and all signatories of the UN Geneva Convention to apply all possible diplomatic pressure on Israel to fulfill its commitments under international law.