Statement from Refugees International:
Refugees International is horrified and heartbroken by the attacks and ongoing loss of life in Israel and Gaza.
We condemn all violence against civilians regardless of the perpetrator or victim. International Humanitarian Law, which governs the legal conduct of armed conflict, is unambiguous on the primacy of protecting civilians.
The heinous and widespread attacks by Hamas on civilians in Israel are an egregious violation of IHL. These are wanton war crimes and Refugees International condemns them unreservedly. There can be no justification for willful violence toward civilians.
Besiegement and collective punishment are also war crimes under IHL. The threats by Israel’s Defense Minister to deny food and water to all Gazans – half of whom are children – would constitute an egregious IHL violation as well.
Neither one of these acts legitimizes the other.
As violence widens, we plead for all parties to adhere to the laws of armed conflict, and we call for urgent diplomacy to reinforce these fundamental obligations. Civilians must be protected from violence, whether targeted, indiscriminate, or disproportionate. And civilians must have unimpeded access to fundamental humanitarian support. Even before this latest violence, the over two million people who live in Gaza were experiencing extreme humanitarian need amidst the long-running Israeli blockade.
We lift up all victims of the violence and their families in our hearts. We mourn in solidarity with them. All people, regardless of their identity, have a right to live in security and dignity.