Palestine: UN warns of repercussion of retaliatory punishment against Gaza

آثار قصف إسرائيلي على غزة

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Volker Türk, warned of the repercussions of collective punishment imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities against Palestinians in Gaza and the targeting of civilians, stressing that bitter experiences have shown that "vengeance is not the answer, and ultimately innocent civilians pay the price." 

The High Commissioner issued an urgent appeal to all influential States to take the necessary steps to defuse the explosive situation. The High Commissioner stressed the need for international humanitarian law to be respected by all parties and to "immediately cease attacks targeting civilians and attacks expected to cause disproportionate death and injury of civilians or damage to civilian objects". 

Collective punishment 

UNRWA schools, premises, towers and residential buildings across Gaza have been hit by Israeli aerial bombardment, resulting in civilian casualties. The High Commissioner highlighted the importance of adhering to the principles of distinguishing between civilian and military objectives and "prohibiting indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks". 

"International humanitarian law is clear: the obligation to take constant care to spare the civilian population and civilian objects remains applicable throughout attacks." 

Mr. Türk warned that the "full siege" ordered by the Israeli authorities, cutting off electricity, water, food and fuel supplies, compounds “the already dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the capacity of medical facilities to operate.” 

The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are facing an intense air raid launched by the Israeli army, at a time when the statements of the Minister of Defense of the occupying authority, describing the Palestinians as human animals, have sparked condemnation by human rights activists around the world. 

Human rights organizations have also qualified the depriving of the population of occupied territories of food and electricity as a form of collective punishment. 

Occupation narrative 

Alkarama's director, lawyer Rashid Mesli, was surprised by "the continued Western bias towards the Israeli narrative at the expense of the truth, even after a White House spokesman retracted statements made by US President Joe Biden accusing Palestinian militants of beheading children." 

"It is regrettable that some Western governments are trying to criminalize freedom of opinion and conscience by banning sympathy for the Palestinian people and their stolen rights and rejecting the murders and intimidation they have been subjected to for decades," he added. 

Palestinians have been suffering for decades as a result of the violations they are subjected to and their suffering is compounded by the occupation's practices that aim to force them into displacement and abandon their land, including home demolitions, which prompted Alkarama to document these practices in the context of a short documentary that sheds light on this issue.