There is no safe place in Gaza

It has been five months since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and the start of Israel’s war in Gaza. More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, more than 80% of Gaza’s population is displaced, all children in Gaza under age five are at risk of severe malnutrition, and the healthcare system in Gaza has been decimated. Civilians, children, journalists, medical professionals, humanitarian workers, and UN staff are being killed at an unprecedented rate. Simply put, there is no safe place in Gaza.

All human beings are equally deserving of dignity, rights, and freedom. All forms of mass atrocity and violations of international human rights must be condemned everywhere they occur. Human rights violations are never justified. Human rights are not reciprocal. Violations of human rights by any party does not justify human rights violations by any other party. Human rights always apply, for all people, in all places, whether in peace or war or the times in between.

In January, the International Court of Justice determined that it is plausible that some of Israel’s acts and omissions in Gaza could amount to genocide. The ICJ issued binding provisional measures against Israel including that it take all measures within its power to prevent and punish genocide and the incitement to genocide. The Court also ordered Israel to take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza. Yet, Gaza is on the brink of human-induced famine

What must be done immediately to protect human rights in Gaza? 

  1. Protecting Palestinian human rights requires an immediate and permanent ceasefire. The right to self-defense does not permit gross and systematic human rights violations or mass atrocity. 
  2. Israel must provide meaningful, unconditional access to humanitarian aid and life-saving goods and services instead of obstructing it. Israel is weaponizing food against Palestinians in Gaza. Food, water, clothing, housing and medical care are all human rights. Other states, including the U.S., must do their part to protect these rights.  
  3. No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention. Hamas must release all hostages without condition. Israel must release all Palestinians held indefinitely without cause and trial. Sexual violence, torture, and cruel and dehumanizing treatment are human rights violations.
  4. U.S. military aid must not abet gross violations of human rights. Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act prohibits it. Congress has enacted “Leahy Laws” to prohibit U.S. military aid to foreign forces committing gross violations of human rights. Continuing military assistance to Israel makes the U.S. complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights in Gaza. Worse still, in light of the ICJ determination, military assistance likely violates U.S. obligations under the Genocide Convention.
  5. Freedom of opinion and expression must be protected and along with the people who protect our right to seek, receive, and impart information. The Committee to Protect Journalists confirms that 77 journalists were killed in Israel and the occupied territories in 2023 with an additional 11 journalists confirmed killed so far in 2024. Free speech and freedom of expression must be protected, from Gaza to University campuses. 

Antisemitism and Islamophobia are rising in our communities and on our campus. No member of our community should be subjected to discrimination or harassment. It is our shared responsibility to care for impacted communities, to protect all members of our community from bias and hate, and to report it when it occurs. 

May we all recognize our common humanity and our equal entitlement to human rights and treat each other with compassion.

View the HRP's explainer on the ICJ Genocide Convention Case of South Africa v. Israel for more information.

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