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Israeli Strikes on Aid Workers in Gaza: HRW

error 2024-05-15, 12:07am

on-february-5-2024-israeli-naval-gunfire-hit-an-unrwa-aid-truck-carrying-food-32598dec385260df30df31ed256b37d11715710029.jpg

On February 5, 2024, Israeli naval gunfire hit an UNRWA aid truck carrying food. © 2024 UNRWA



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In the past seven months, Israeli forces have carried out strikes on humanitarian aid workers in Gaza – not once, not twice, but over and over.

Israel’s attack on the World Central Kitchen convoy, which killed seven aid workers last month, was far from being an isolated “mistake.” The Israeli military has hit aid workers’ convoys and premises at least eight times, according to  a new HRW report, killing or injuring at least 31 aid workers and those with them. 

It’s critical to realize here Israel is striking known locations of aid workers on the ground. Aid groups had provided their coordinates to the Israeli authorities through a process used in war zones called “deconfliction.” In humanitarian work, the basic idea is, aid workers tell warring parties where they are, and those warring parties try to avoid hitting them in their military operations. 

Communication between warring parties and humanitarians working in the war zone is essential, but when the attacks described in the new report came, Israeli authorities did not issue advance warnings to any of the aid organizations beforehand. Eight strikes on humanitarian aid workers suggests – at the very least – fundamental flaws with the deconfliction system.

If the government of Israel is concerned by this pattern of attacks on aid workers, it should allow international experts to conduct an independent review of the military’s humanitarian deconfliction process. 

Israel’s allies ought to pressure Israel to do so and not simply because it’s the right thing to do, but also because they may be connected directly to these military strikes. In at least one of these incidents, Israel apparently made use of weapons and other equipment provided by the US.

Last week, US President Joe Biden announced his administration has “held up” at least one shipment of 3,500 bombs and artillery shells to Israel. This partial pause on weapon transfers didn’t go far enough, but was a step in the right direction.

Other allies have also revised their policies of supplying weapons to Israel. Canada announced it would halt future arms exports. Italy and  Spain also stopped new licenses. In the Netherlands, a  lawsuit forced the government to pause sales of F-35 fighter jet parts. 

All governments should suspend military assistance and arms sales to Israel so long as its forces commit systematic and widespread violations of the laws of war – including using starvation as a weapon of war – against Palestinian civilians.

Remember: governments that continue to provide arms to the Israeli government risk being complicit in war crimes. – Human Rights Watch