HIC-HLRN Statement: States Must Act for Peace in Palestine, with Justice, and without Zionism
This statement updates and revises the HIC Statement of 23 October 2023.
Amid the most-recent escalation of violence in Zionism’s century-long persecution of the Indigenous Palestinian People, the Palestinian Islamist Resistance Movement (Hamas) and its militant `Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, launched an unprecedented armed operation (al-Aqsa Flood) against Israel on early 7 October 2023. The Palestinian resistance forces fired more than 5,000 rockets toward 22 targets outside the Gaza Strip, including Israeli military bases and illegal Israeli settler colonies along the Gaza border, including Ashkelon, Zikim, Sderot, Kfar Aza, Nahal Oz, Kerem Shalom and Ofakim.
Some 2,000 Palestinian militants breached the separation fence between Gaza and Israel with bulldozers, transport vehicles and motorcycles, killed over 1,400 Israeli noncombatants and soldiers, and wounded some 2,800. Palestinian militants also killed at least 260 revelers at a music festival at Kibbutz Re’im, after fighters arrived in trucks and on motorcycles, wearing body armor and brandishing AK–47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.
Failed and Indiscriminate Responses
The operation took Israel’s highly reputed military and security forces by surprise. It signaled the most-significant failure to date of Israel’s exercise of ‘self-defense,’ claimed as a right despite Israel’s predatory nature since Zionist colonies began. The Palestinian operation evaded Israel’s much-vaunted ‘iron dome’ anti-missile system and its security and intelligence apparatus, embarrassing Israel’s Netanyahu government domestically and globally. Immediately after the attacks, Israel has continuously retaliated by killing some 1,500 Palestinian fighters and launching indiscriminate air and land-based attacks against civilians, residences and infrastructure across the Gaza Strip, while belatedly asserting its right to self-defense.
Meanwhile, the international community of states has ignored calls for a cease fire or pause and to address the root causes of violence. Four draft Security Council resolutions calling for a cease fire due to the United States veto (joined once by UK). Thereafter, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (with 121 votes in favor, 14 against and 44 abstentions), calling for the same on 27 October, whereupon Israel promptly launched its most virulent attacks to date against the 2.3 million Palestinians held hostage in the Gaza Strip under Israel’s 16-year-long blockade.
The Palestinian attacks resulted in the destruction of Israeli military targets and equipment, and Hamas continues to hold some 230–38 Israeli military personnel and civilian persons hostage inside Gaza, where Israel already has sequestered the over two million current Palestinian inhabitants hostage for decades.
Israel has maintained those long-term Palestinian hostages after having expelled them from their homes in 247 villages in the southern 50% of Palestine in 1947–48, driven by a dozen Zionist massacres committed by Israeli forces, composed of 120,000 soldiers in nine brigades. Those forces forcibly transferred those present-day hostages, pushing them into a small place now called Gaza Strip, which is 1.3% of Palestine, sequestering them there since 1947.
Resistance, Retaliation, Retribution and Genocide
The 7 October attacks mostly targeted sites of current and historic Israeli military activity, including the conduct of war crimes and crimes against humanity (see table in annex below). Whether categorized as an act of resistance or retaliation, Hamas/`Izz al-Din al-Qassam operations targeted Israelis in key nearby locations. The illustrative table below identifies them by the current name of the corresponding Israeli settler colony, their original Palestinian habitat and their disposition (fate) under Israel’s colonial regime.
In their direct retaliation to the recent 7 October operation, Israeli occupation forces have continued for nearly a month at this writing to pound the Gaza Strip heavily from air, land and sea, as well by ground operations. As of the UN Security Council Emergency Session briefing on 30 October 2023, the indiscriminate Israeli bombardment of Gaza has killed over 8,300 Palestinians, including 3,400 children. Israel is now killing Palestinian children at a rate of 430 per day. Over 21,000 persons are left injured.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians are still missing and trapped under the rubble, fates unknown. Israel`s assault has forced more than 1.4 million Palestinians—over half the Gaza Strip population—into internal displacement. Israel’s bombardments have killed 64 UNRWA staff and UN colleagues so far, as well as dozens of journalists and the targeted families of journalists. Israeli settler and military violence in the West Bank has displaced hundreds of Palestinians and caused untold damage to Palestinian property and institutions.
Targeting Homes, Shelters and Shelter Seekers
The widespread and systematic targeting of civilian structures and properties has left at least 16,644 destroyed housing units and severely damaged 11,340 in Gaza, rendering them uninhabitable. Israeli attacks also have destroyed or severely damaged water and sanitation facilities and other civilian infrastructure, including 24 hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Over 640,000 Gaza residents are huddled in unsafe, unsanitary and overcrowded shelters. Already as of 25 October 2023, Israel forces had destroyed at least 45% of residential housing in the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023.
With respect to the human right to adequate housing in cases of conflict, Israel’s tactics constitute a of population transfer, a war crime and crime against humanity, consistent with Israel’s civil and military practice targeting Palestinian (Golan Syrian and South Lebanese) homes, shelters and shelter seekers. By this particularly lethal form of population transfer in Israeli military doctrine, the Israel army and air force compel civilians to flee by columns into concentrated locations, then attack them there to maximize casualties. Israel’s military operations force civilians to leave their often-demolished homes, while targeting them with tactics and weapons already prohibited by universal moral and humanitarian standards, and corresponding legal norms.
HIC and its Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) have repeatedly exposed and warned against this long and unbroken chain of Israeli atrocities against the Indigenous Palestinian People, including the various forms of collective punishment they have been forced to endure the over 75 years of Zionist colonization, 55 years of military occupation of the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as well as the 16-year-long comprehensive blockade of the Gaza Strip. The resulting humanitarian crisis that has been severe in the past, is currently catastrophic.
As the UN Secretary-General observed, the 7 October Hamas operation “did not happen in a vacuum.” Over the years, we have repeatedly drawn attention on the serious crimes committed by the Israeli “as military doctrine,” and its continuous denial and destruction of Palestinians’ habitat: land, housing and means of subsistence, as well as the failure of most states in the West and the international community to take effective measures toward protection of civilians, remedy and reparation.
We have also repeatedly reported and warned about the institutionalized material discrimination, dispossession and persecution of the Indigenous Palestinian People through measures that amount to the serious crimes of population transfer and apartheid. The enduring objective of Zionist colonization has been the removal of the Indigenous Palestinian People and acquisition of their land and other resources by any and all means. As always, the dispossession of the land spells the denial of Indigenous Peoples’ inalienable right to self-determination and means of subsistence.
We continue to remind all states of their prior and permanent duty under peremptory norms of international law to fulfil Palestinians’ right to self-determination, while the same states bear corresponding individual, collective, domestic and extraterritorial obligations to implement effective measures that bring an end to this protracted illegal situation.
The current wave of Israel’s disproportionately deadly campaign comes one year after the UN Special Rapporteur on and Adequate Housing issued his call, urging states and the UN General Assembly to recognize “domicide” (the massive, arbitrary destruction of civilian housing) under international law as a crime against humanity and a war crime, in cases of violent conflict.
Habitat International Coalition (HIC) condemns colonialism anywhere, and the century of colonization of Palestine by self-identified Jewish settlers, in particular. Their Zionist ideology is an abomination of the loftiest of common religious principles, including those of Judaism. Israel’s protracted violence against the Indigenous Palestinian People amounts to another in the series of Israeli ethnic cleansings, this time of some 1.1 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It only perpetuates a cycle of violence that threatens regional and global peace and security.
The international community, the UN, its bodies and commissions must address the root causes of the conflict and the ensuing cycle of violence playing out across Palestine. These include the inherently colonial, racist and apartheid ideology of Zionism, imposed through the institutions and law of Israel. That inquiry and policy revision must also recognize the malfeasance of UN bodies and actions through time, including the Partition of Palestine, which violated sacrosanct principles of international law prior to the UN Charter, and enshrined in it at the time. The requirements of justice and consequent peace also require the full remedy and reparation for harm to the Palestinian people as a consequence of states’ individual, joint and collective actions.
HIC and HIC-HLRN repeat again this call, urging all states, especially the colonial powers of the US, UK, EU states and Australia, to cease their material support and hypocritical political cover to Israel. Compliance with international norms of peace and security requires refraining from the transfer of weapons to Israeli that are used in the commission, or facilitation of gross violations of international human rights law and/or serious violations of international humanitarian law that constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity during Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza, without differentiation between civilians and combatants.
We remind them also of the obligation of states not to recognize, cooperate or transact with the illegal situation of Israel’s occupation and denial of Palestinian self-determination.
We call for an end to the current state of affairs, including the taking of hostages and holding the Palestinian people in the largest open-air prison in the world. We demand an end to Israeli mechanisms of persecution against the Palestinian people such as denial of freedom of movement, apartheid roads, illegal settler-colony expansion and collective punishment of Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip through destruction of homes and civilian infrastructure; systematic and institutionalized targeting and forced evictions, including the serious crime of population transfer; and the confiscation of their property, all exerted in a collective manner.
HIC and HIC-HLRN call on members of the United Nations, its commissions and institutions, and the international community as a whole to urgently uphold their responsibility to address the root causes of the conflict and to stop the ongoing Israeli military action and brutal Jewish settler violence against Palestinian women, men and children across the occupied Palestinian territory and historic Palestine at large.
30 October 2023
Photo: An Israeli air strike on a building in the Rimal district of central Gaza City on Sunday, 29 October 2023. Israel’s military said the bombings had targeted a nearby underground network of Hamas tunnels. Source: Bashar Taleb/AFP via Getty.