Amnesty International Calls for an Immediate Humanitarian Truce in Gaza

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Amnesty International Calls for an Immediate Humanitarian Truce in Gaza

LONDON -  

Amnesty International today urged the UN
Security Council to demand that Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed
groups observe an immediate truce in Gaza to allow desperately needed
humanitarian assistance to the beleaguered civilian population,
evacuation of the wounded and safe refuge for civilians wishing to flee
the conflict zone.

“Civilians in Gaza are trapped in an unfolding humanitarian
catastrophe, and need immediate respite,” said Malcolm Smart, Director
of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“It is abundantly clear that the parties to this conflict are
failing to respect international humanitarian law, and that the
civilian population of Gaza is paying a very heavy price.”

“Eleven days into the conflict and amid a mounting toll of civilian
casualties in Gaza, calls for a ceasefire have as yet gone unheeded by
both Israel and Hamas,” said Malcolm Smart “In the absence of a
ceasefire, an immediate humanitarian truce is urgently needed to
protect the civilian population. The fighting must stop long enough so
that humanitarian assistance can reach those in need and so that those
who want to leave can be evacuated.”
 
“An immediate pause in hostilities would at least make it possible for
basic assistance to be got to civilians in dire need, permit the
evacuation and treatment of the wounded and the burial of the dead,”
said Malcolm Smart. “It would also allow civilians trapped in Gaza an
opportunity to leave the conflict zone safely to seek refuge with the
assistance of neighbouring states where necessary, allow emergency
repairs to essential infrastructure, and ensure that humanitarian
workers can provide protection and assistance in safety.”

Amnesty International has repeatedly urged Israel, Hamas, and other
Palestinian armed groups to end attacks on civilians and other
violations of international humanitarian law, and to allow access to
humanitarian assistance. The organization has urged the UN Security
Council and the international community to ensure compliance with
international law.

However, civilians -- particularly the 1.5 million Palestinians
trapped in Gaza -- continue to both be targeted and suffer
disproportionately in this conflict.

Backgound
More than 500 Palestinians have been killed since 27 December,
including more than 100 unarmed civilians. This includes scores of
children. Over 2,000 have been injured. Israeli air strikes continue to
be launched in a reckless manner, resulting in high civilian
casualties. The use of artillery – which is notoriously inaccurate in
pinpointing its target and should never be used in densely populated
areas – is leading to further deaths and injuries to civilians. The
invasion by Israeli ground forces into Gaza (since 3 January) brings
the fighting into the midst of residential areas.  The division of Gaza
by Israeli forces into three sections is further exacerbating the
humanitarian situation.

Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have been firing hundreds
of indiscriminate rockets into towns in southern Israel, in violation
of international humanitarian law. Three Israeli civilians have been
killed in these attacks.

The Israeli ground incursion into Gaza that began on 3 January has
taken the fighting even further into the heart of residential areas,
increasing the risk for the civilian population. 

Even with fighting continuing, Israel has clear obligations under
international humanitarian law to allow humanitarian assistance for
civilians and must do so immediately. Instead, Israel has been actively
blocking essential medicine, food, fuel, and electricity in violation
of its duties as the Occupying Power.

There is a critical shortage of food, medicine and most of the
necessities required to sustain life in Gaza. According to the ICRC,
hospitals are now completely dependent on unreliable generators that
cannot be repaired due to Israeli restrictions on the import of spare
parts. The fighting has prevented ambulance crews from responding to
some emergency calls, resulting in preventable deaths.

Many water supply lines have been severed during bombardments,
making it very difficult for families in certain areas of the Gaza
Strip to get hold of safe drinking water. Necessary repairs have been
impeded by bombings. This lack of clean water supply is a disaster in
waiting.

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Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.

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