The ongoing and intense attacks on Gaza have resulted in severe and unprecedented suffering for a population already grappling with a severe humanitarian crisis. After enduring 16 years of an unlawful blockade imposed by Israel, Gaza’s healthcare infrastructure is on the brink of collapse, and its economy is in a state of disarray. Hospitals are overwhelmed, struggling to accommodate the large influx of injured individuals, and are critically lacking essential medical supplies and equipment.

By Themba Khumalo

Israel is currently engaged in an evil military campaign in Gaza, committing acts that can be classified as crimes against humanity. With Israeli political leaders and their allies making provocative statements and carrying out brutal military action in Gaza, as well as escalating arrests and killings in the West Bank, there is a real danger of genocide against the Palestinian people.

There is evidence that cannot be refuted indicating that Israel has participated in actions that constitute war crimes through its persistent military assaults, which have led to the annihilation of entire families in Gaza.

Israel has caused substantial damage to Gaza’s healthcare system and has destroyed a significant amount of the territory’s infrastructure. In addition to this, it has increased its blockade by limiting access to fuel, water, and food, all of which are actions that violate international humanitarian law and are considered to be war crimes.

The United Nations human rights experts have expressed grave humanitarian and legal concerns regarding Israel’s tightening of its siege of the enclave and its population, which has been ongoing for the past 16 years. As a result, 2.2 million people are being deprived of essential food, fuel, water, electricity, and medicine.

There are approximately 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza who, according to the United Nations, are in urgent need of prenatal and postnatal care. It is estimated that approximately one million people in the Gaza Strip are internally displaced and currently living as refugees in their own country.

The Palestinian people have been under the thumb of a suffocating occupation for many decades. They have witnessed their land being gobbled up by settlements and haunted by violence; their economy being smothered; their people being uprooted, and their homes being razed to the ground.

The lack of a firm and decisive response from the international community in the face of Israel’s brutality and its persistent belligerent war-mongering is deeply concerning.

The population of Gaza, a significant proportion of which comprises children, has endured a prolonged period of unlawful and oppressive occupation, spanning several decades, alongside enduring a blockade that has persisted for a duration of 16 years.

As the Israeli military ramps up its devastating offensive in the occupied Gaza Strip, Amnesty International has recorded instances of illegal Israeli assaults, including indiscriminate attacks that have resulted in significant civilian casualties. The organisation has called for an investigation into Israel’s actions, asserting that they may constitute war crimes.

The organisation conducted interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses, utilised satellite imagery analysis, and authenticated photos and videos to investigate air bombardments conducted by Israeli forces from 7 to 12 October. These attacks caused widespread destruction and, in some cases, resulted in the destruction of entire families. It provided a comprehensive examination of its findings on five of these illegal attacks.

In all of these instances, Amnesty determined that Israeli assaults breached international humanitarian law. This included a failure to implement practical measures to protect civilians, conducting indiscriminate attacks that did not differentiate between civilians and military targets, and carrying out assaults that may have been deliberately aimed at civilian structures.

“In their stated intent to use all means to destroy Hamas, Israeli forces have shown a shocking disregard for civilian lives. They have pulverised street after street of residential buildings killing civilians on a mass scale and destroying essential infrastructure, while new restrictions mean Gaza is fast running out of water, medicine, fuel and electricity.

“Testimonies from eyewitnesses and survivors highlighted, again and again, how Israeli attacks decimated Palestinian families, causing such destruction that surviving relatives have little but rubble to remember their loved ones by,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

Amnesty International’s investigation has uncovered strong evidence of war crimes in Israel’s bombing campaign, necessitating prompt and thorough investigation. The prolonged period of impunity and injustice, along with the unprecedented scale of casualties and destruction during the ongoing offensive, are likely to worsen the cycle of violence and contribute to heightened instability in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

“It is vital that the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court urgently expedites its ongoing investigation into evidence of war crimes and other crimes under international law by all parties. Without justice and the dismantlement of Israel’s system of apartheid against Palestinians, there can be no end to the horrifying civilian suffering we are witnessing,” said Callamard.

For a very long time, Israel has shown a pattern of disregarding international laws and resorting to violent measures, including the demolition of homes, leading to the tragic loss of innocent lives, particularly women and children. These actions, as justified by the murderous apartheid state as necessary for security reasons, are often taken when there is suspicion of Palestinian “terrorists” in the same area.

It is also crucial to acknowledge that the United States has been the most significant military supporter of Israel throughout its history of conflict with the Palestinians. President Joe Biden’s actions have been seen as exacerbating the conflict in the Middle East and effectively endorsing Israel’s aggressive actions.

Despite subsequently calling for Israeli restraint in its retaliatory actions against Gaza, Biden’s warm embrace of Benjamin Netanyahu during the intense bombing of Gaza and his pledge of unwavering support for Israel are contradictory. This is especially evident given the significant military aid provided to Israel and the deployment of a powerful warship to the region by the US government.

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