“The civilian populations of both Israel and Gaza have experienced far too much tragedy, unnecessary bloodshed and loss of life in recent years, with no accountability. Both sides have an abysmal track record of violating international human rights and humanitarian law during armed conflict.”- Philip Luther, Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty’s International Secretariat in London, England.
In late June and early July 2014, mounting tensions over the killing of three Israeli teenagers, and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank, escalated into a full-blown conflict between Israel and armed groups in Gaza. On July 8, Israel launched Operation “Protective Edge” as rocket attacks continued from Gaza into southern Israel. Overwhelmingly, those being killed and injured are civilians.
Add your name to Amnesty’s call for the US to stop arms transfers to Israel and to support a UN Security Council arms embargo on all parties.
Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including the military wing of Hamas, to ensure that civilian lives are protected as the conflict between the two sides escalates. We call on Israel to only carry out strikes on legitimate military targets and to not shell densely populated residential areas indiscriminately and we call on Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza strip to stop firing indiscriminate rockets into Israel and launching attacks from residential areas. Both sides should also agree to periodic humanitarian pauses in the fighting to deal with such concerns as evacuating the dead and wounded, and critical water and sanitation repairs.
The organization has also appealed to the international community for an international arms embargo, suspension of arms transfers to both sides and an international investigation into violations including alleged war crimes. On July 23, the UN Human Rights Council established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate all violations of international law “in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after”.
Under international humanitarian law – the “laws of war” – all parties to a conflict must ensure that attacks are proportional and only directed at legitimate military targets. Both direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks are illegal, as is placing military assets in civilian areas or buildings. Parties must take necessary precautions when undertaking attacks to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects. They also must take all feasible precautions to protect civilians under their control from the effects of attacks.