The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) is appalled by the bombing of Al Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in Gaza City, which has resulted in over 500 fatalities and hundreds of other casualties. This unspeakable act of attacking a civilian hospital and the toll on civilian life is the inevitable result of Israel’s sustained indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza, which had already killed over 2,000 civilians and injured thousands more when the attack on the hospital occurred. The massacre occurred 24 hours after the UN Security Council failed to take a decision on a ceasefire in Gaza, due to the veto power used by the United States, the United Kingdom and France, and abstention of five states. The position of the three permanent members of the Security Council is consistent with their official rhetoric of unconditional support for Israel’s right to defend itself in response to the Hamas attack on October 7.
In the context of Israel’s ongoing “Sword of Iron” operation, hospitals and UNRWA schools used as internally displaced shelters have been repeatedly hit by Israeli missiles. There is no justification whatsoever for this wanton destruction of civilian life. The indiscriminate bombardment is accompanied by a stringent blockade of the Gaza Strip, leaving 2.3 million people without supplies of food, water and fuel necessary to power life-saving medical equipment and other essential civilian infrastructure. These Israeli actions are violations of international law, which constitute war crimes. Those responsible must be held accountable for these crimes.
As of now, the Security Council must uphold its responsibility and issue a resolution under Chapter VII ordering an immediate end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and a complete cessation of hostilities by all parties, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Palestinian armed groups must immediately release all Israeli and other civilian hostages taken during the raid into Israel on October 7.
Western governments and others have made Israel’s right to “defend itself” the focus of their responses to the October 7 attack on Israel, without sufficiently emphasizing that any military action taken by Israel must be fully compliant with international law. The international community must recognize that the failure to adequately emphasize adherence to international law is only contributing to the slaughter of civilians.
In addition to an immediate ceasefire, CIHRS calls for:
- An immediate cessation of hostilities.
- The opening of Gaza’s borders in Egypt and Israel for the delivery of humanitarian supplies.
- The mobilization of a massive international humanitarian effort to support all victims of violence and restore essential services.
CIHRS calls on:
- The UN Commission of Inquiry to carry out a thorough investigation into the events since October 7- paying attention to root causes, and immediate contributory factors and recurrence.
- The ICC to implement an investigation into crimes committed by all parties since October 7 and to initiate the prosecution of those implicated in crimes.
- All parties to enable the two above-mentioned multilateral institutions to carry out their work unimpeded, including by providing them with immediate access on the ground to collect and preserve evidence of war crimes.
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