Messages from Gaza Now October/November 2023 – War Crimes and extra information

Hossam Madhoun in Gaza

War crimes and other extra information

Hossam in Nuseirat Refugee Camp, south of Gaza City

Every day, every night, bombing, striking, shelling does not stop, sometimes heavy and continuous, sometimes with a break, each day we say to ourselves: ‘This is the worst day since the war started on Gaza’ Another day comes to tell us: ‘You did not see the worst yet!’

Yes, yesterday, bombing and mainly shelling from land and sea starting around noon, with no stop until today 7 am. Bombing that shakes the air, shakes the walls, shakes the trees and shakes our hearts and minds. 

23 days and we are still counting: dead, injured, destruction, agony, humiliation, starvation, disease. 23 days and every day we lose part of our hope, part of our strength, part of our humanity. 

Hamas killed civilians. A war crime. They must be brought to accountability at the International Court of Justice. Based on International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law.

Can we talk about the other side?  

20 years ago, Israel released secret documents from 1948 and before. They admit, they confess that they committed massacres against Palestinians in many villages, killing in cold blood hundreds of innocent people including men, women and children, in Tantora, in Deir Yaseen, in Kafr Qasem, and in many other villages. Besides these documents, many of their former soldiers went on the media and confessed that they participated in killing civilians, raping women and killing them. Some spoke with regret and some spoke with pride for what they did. These are crimes against humanity based on the same International Human Rights law and International Humanitarian Law. Are they going to be brought to justice? 

Israelis dismissed Palestinians from their lands, dispossessed them, cleansing all cities and villages, clear and obvious genocide. Destroying 800 villages, creating a catastrophe for a whole nation. Forcing them to be refugees in many countries all over the world, but mainly in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.    

For many years Israel kept chasing the Nazi criminals who escaped and hid after World War 2 and brought them to justice. That is great; that makes me happy. Criminals must be brought to justice. All criminals, without differentiation, without exceptions.   

Are those Israeli criminals from 1948 and before – those who admit and confess – going to be brought to justice? They already admitted, they confessed! 

Now Israel has declared a war against Hamas; all the western countries are supporting them. 

Let’s have a look at this war:

302 Palestinians were killed in Gaza between 6pm on 28th October and noon on 29th October. This brings the cumulative reported fatality toll in Gaza since the start of the assault to 8,005, of whom 67 per cent are children and women. 

What has this to do with fighting Hamas?

Israel destroyed and damaged 55% of the Gaza Strip housing units around 200,000 housing units destroyed or damaged, including the destruction of the water, sewage, electricity and phone infrastructure, forcing 2.1 million people to squeeze into a place where 1 million already live. 

What has this to do with fighting Hamas?

On 28th and 29th October, the neighbourhoods of Al Shifa and Al Quds hospitals in Gaza City and of the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza have been reportedly bombarded, causing damage. Thousands of patients and medical staff, as well as about 117,000 Internally Displaced Persons  are staying in these facilities.

What has this to do with fighting Hamas?

As of 29th October, more than 1.4 million people in Gaza out of 2.1 million were internally displaced, with some 671,000 sheltering in 150 UNRWA facilities. The average number of Internally Displaced Persons per shelter is over three times their intended capacity. 

What has this to do with fighting Hamas?

Israel prevents entry of any kind of fuel and has cut the water supply and electricity for 2.1 million residents in Gaza Strip. 

What has this to do with fighting Hamas?

The telecommunications shutdown by the Israelis has brought the already challenging delivery of humanitarian assistance to a complete halt, and is depriving people of life-saving information. As noted on 28th October by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk: 

‘The bombing of the telecommunications infrastructure places the civilian population in grave danger. Ambulances and civil defence teams are no longer able to locate the injured, or the thousands of people estimated to be still under the rubble. Civilians are no longer able to receive updated information on where they can access humanitarian relief and where they may be in less danger.’ What has this to do with fighting Hamas?

Over 40 per cent of Gaza’s education facilities have been hit since the assault on Gaza started, including 38 schools destroyed and/or severely damaged, 75 of which have sustained moderate damage and another 108 with minor damage.

What has this to do with fighting Hamas?

Israel is preventing all food, aid, medical or any other supplies from getting to the 2.1 million residents of the Gaza Strip. The normal daily truckloads of goods entering Gaza are 450 – 500 truckloads per day of all kinds of vital materials. Only 81 trucks with some food and medical supplies have been allowed in over the last 23 days. 

What has this to do with fighting Hamas? 

No one can leave or enter Gaza, in clear violation of the human right to free movement. 

What has this to do with fighting Hamas?

Cutting the electricity made many sewage pump stations stop operating and sewage is leaking in the streets everywhere, causing the danger of water borne diseases. 

What has this to do with fighting Hamas?

Cleansing Gaza City and the northern villages and camps by forcing all the residents to flee their homes in clear violation of International Humanitarian Law; for more than 30 years I have been working in the humanitarian field with Save The Children International, Action Against Hunger and many other organisations. My wife also, who worked at the International Committee of the Red Cross, Humanity and Inclusion and many other international humanitarian organisations, we studied International Humanitarian Law. We believed in it, we learned that these laws should provide justice and the prevention of any harm to civilians and innocent people. Especially in war time.

Our daughter is following in our footsteps. She studied Law at university and now she is abroad studying for a Masters Degree in Human Rights and Democracy. 

Why should only we abide and adhere to International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law? Why not the others: the strong, the ones who kill, the ones who have the ability to prevent civilians and innocent people from accessing basic needs? Just because they can? Why?