As we enter the fourth month of the relentless war in Gaza and the escalation of violence in the West Bank, it has become increasingly evident that the situation is not only a dire humanitarian crisis but also a serious violation of human rights that contravene the very tenets of international law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Reports from United Nations experts underline these violations, emphasising the urgent need for accountability for crimes that may amount to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity1.
Among the most heinous aspects of this onslaught has been the deliberate and systematic targeting of journalists which constitutes a direct assault on the principles of freedom of speech and the public’s right to information. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports that at least 81 journalists have been killed in the Gaza Strip in the last three months and calls on the UN Security Council to reinforce Resolution 2222, ensuring better protection for journalists in conflict zones2.
A staggering number of Palestinians, which exceeds 23,000, have been killed3 in Gaza, while 26 out of the territory’s 35 hospitals are no longer operating. The plight of women and children is particularly grave. There have been 12,882 women and children killed, with an additional harrowing statistic: on average every day 10 children day lose one or both legs4 while 50,000 pregnant women5 endure extreme hardships, facing what UNFPA has called a “double nightmare”6.
The UNRWA has reported, as of December 12, that nearly 85% of Gaza’s population, approximately 1.9 million people, are internally displaced, with many experiencing displacement multiple times7.
The disproportionate bombardments and the inhumane blockade imposed on Gaza led to severe deprivation for the 2.3 million residents, escalating the crisis to critical levels of disease, with an ever-increasing risk of famine.
Equally alarming is the destruction of educational structures and holy sites8 with a total of 339 educational facilities having been either completely destroyed or severely damaged, and 167 religious sites, including mosques and churches, being demolished.
Furthermore, the targeting of various UN agencies in the region, notably UNRWA, has been severe and alarming. As of January the 1st, a tragic total of 142 UNRWA staff members have been killed9. These attacks further impede the advancement of humanitarian work in the region, underlining the critical challenges faced in these efforts.
The widespread destruction of homes, hospitals, educational facilities and holy sites as well as the undermining of humanitarian aid is a harrowing testament to the brutality and severity of this onslaught. It speaks volumes on the humanitarian catastrophe we are witnessing and the need for an immediate cessation of violence alongside accountability.
Therefore, FEMYSO joins the global call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire to halt the human suffering of the Palestinian people. The continuous bloodshed and destruction must come to an end.
The EU must reassess and modify its current foreign policy, especially concerning arms trade agreements that may contribute to further escalation of violence in the region. There is a strong need for a responsible approach that advocates for a ceasefire, for peace, sovereignty and self-determination of the Palestinian people. We commend the courageous politicians who have already spoken out against these atrocities and urge Member States to stand on the right side of history by supporting South Africa’s submission of preliminary measures to the International Court of Justice10.
FEMYSO continues to work in collaboration with its Member Organisations and partners for a diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe, where everyone lives based on the principles of the rule of law, respect and human dignity – values which FEMYSO wishes to see exercised worldwide.
1. FEMYSO (est. 1996) is a network organisation for 32 Muslim youth and student organisations across 22 European countries, and is the leading voice for European Muslim youth, developing and empowering them, and working to build a more diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe.
2. For more information or requests please email email@example.com
- Gaza: UN experts call on international community to prevent genocide against the Palestinian people | OHCHR.
- RSF calls for emergency UN Security Council meeting on Israeli violations of Resolution 2222 on protecting journalists | RSF
- Gaza: One in 100 people has been killed since October 7 | CNN
- GAZA: More than 10 children a day lose a limb in three months of brutal conflict | Save the Children International.
- Facts and figures: Women and girls during the war in Gaza | UN Women – Headquarters.
- ‘I’m scared for my unborn child’: Gaza’s pregnant women prepare to give birth in a war zone | CNN.
- Most of Gaza’s Population Remains Displaced and in Harm’s Way | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org).
- Widespread destruction in Gaza puts concept of ‘domicide’ in focus | Israel-Gaza war | The Guardian.
- UNRWA Situation Report #59 on the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem | UNRWA.
- Application instituting proceedings and Request for the indication of provisional measures (icj-cij.org)