Gaza war: Israel targets aid workers, Human Rights Watch report says

Gaza war: Israel targets aid workers, Human Rights Watch report says
Gaza war: Israel targets aid workers, Human Rights Watch report says

“On the one hand, Israel blocks access to vital humanitarian supplies in Gaza, and on the other, its forces attack convoys that attempt to deliver part of the small amount allowed”, castigates Belkis Wille, deputy director of the Crises and Conflicts division at Human Rights Watch (HRW). This seems to sum up the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

In a report published Tuesday, May 14, the international human rights NGO reports that Israeli forces carried out “at least eight strikes against humanitarian convoys and humanitarian worker premises” in Gaza since October 2023, even though the route of these convoys and the locations of these buildings had been communicated by the organizations concerned. Israeli authorities “did not warn any of the humanitarian organizations before the strikes, which killed or injured at least 31 aid workers and others who accompanied them”estimates the NGO, which recalls that at least 254 humanitarian workers, including 188 UNRWA personnel, have been killed in Gaza since the October 7 attack on Israel, according to the UN.

Far from being isolated errors

“The Israeli strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers was shocking, and should never have happened, under international law”declared Belkis Wille, estimating that “ Israel’s allies should recognize that these attacks that have killed aid workers have occurred repeatedly, and insist that they stop. » The Human Rights Watch report places this targeted attack on this NGO in the context suffered by all associations which attempt to deliver food to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. HRW notes in fact that “Israeli authorities are using starvation as a method of war in Gaza” blocking the supply of water, food and fuel. The report also estimates that agricultural areas were deliberately razed.

This attack on April 1 is “far from being an isolated “error””, adds the human rights NGO, but one of eight events of this type. The list is long. The report thus lists those who struck a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) convoy on November 18, 2023, an UNRWA guest house on December 9, 2023, a building housing MSF employees on January 8, 2024, a site housing employees of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Medical Aid for Palestine on January 18, an UNRWA convoy on February 5, a building protecting MSF employees on February 20, and a house housing an employee of the American Near East Refugee Aid Organization on March 8.

All organizations whose structures and staff were affected told Human Rights Watch that, to their knowledge, there were no military targets in the area at the time of the attack. If these statements were confirmed, “this would make the attacks illegal, given their indiscriminate nature and/or the absence of sufficient precautions to ensure that the target was military”, the report says. And although there had been military targets near some attacked sites, Israel did not warn civilians in any of these cases. Which highlights “Israel’s failure in its duty to protect humanitarian workers and humanitarian operations, and more generally, its tendency to ignore its obligation to minimize harm to civilians”said Human Rights Watch.

The NGO recommends that a group of recognized international experts conduct an independent review of the process of humanitarian “deconfliction” (reduction of accidental risks in a conflict), that Israeli and Palestinian officials cooperate with the International Criminal Court, and believes that Israel’s allies, including the United States and the United Kingdom, “both states having supplied weapons or weapon parts apparently used in at least one of the documented attacks”should suspend their military assistance and arms sales to this state.

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