AWID strongly condemns Israel’s attacks on civilians in Gaza and calls for an immediate end to aggression by all sides.
23 July 2014
The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) strongly condemns the alarming escalation of violence against the civilians of Gaza since the Israeli Defense Forces launched “Operation Protective Edge” on 7th July 2014, including the recent expansion to a ground invasion, breaking the November 2012 ceasefire.
AWID mourns the deaths of all civilians and stands in solidarity with Palestinian and Israeli peace activists and civil society in calling for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israel’s military offensive, the lifting of the blockade, and an end to occupation. AWID calls for adherence to international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including the protection of all civilians. This entails applying the principles of distinction between civilians and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives, as well as, proportionality. Not abiding by these principles amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As of July 22nd, 491 Palestinians civilians have been killed with the numbers increasing daily, among them 161 children and 88 women (this represents 77% of all Palestinians who have died since the beginning of this Israeli operation). At least 3,504 people have been injured (of which 1,100 are children and 1,153 women). Two Israeli civilians have been killed so far, and 17 to 32 have been reported injured. In addition, since the beginning of the operation, in the Gaza strip, 2,655 Palestinian housing units have been destroyed or severely damaged, as well as 90 schools and 18 health facilities damaged.
Physically trapped in an overcrowded war zone with no exit, an overwhelming number of Palestinians have suffered injuries while attacks on medical personnel and facilities are exhausting the capacity of medical services to reach the injured or even respond. The preparation of the ground invasion on the 17th July began with an Israeli government warning to evacuate Northern Gaza; that is, an order for the displacement of at least 100,000 people from that part of the Gaza Strip. So far the conflict has resulted in at least 117,000 people being displaced within the Gaza strip. The military operation has also destroyed businesses, struck infrastructure, mosques, refugee camps, a centre for the disabled, and numerous other civilian targets in the Gaza Strip, and attacked journalists covering the bombardment.
Whilst these attacks have a devastating impact on everyone in and around Gaza, women and children are particularly affected. The attacks compound the already devastating effects of blockade and occupation that have resulted in increased rates of malnutrition, child labour, unemployment and underemployment, and violence against women. For years, Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza and collective punishment of its population has contributed to the widespread systematic legal and institutional discrimination already faced by Palestinian women. The dual discrimination they face as Palestinians and as women living under occupation affects everything from land ownership and employment opportunities to freedom of movement, the right to health, to education, and to family reunification.
In addition, as stated by Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human rights, the current situation in Gaza has overshadowed the increasing tensions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, following the missing and subsequent murder of the three Israeli teenagers near Hebron. Only those responsible for this criminal act can legitimately be punished. Furthermore, Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territory cannot be made subject to collective penalties.
AWID condemns the failure of the international community to effectively respond to the current Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians. We call on the international community to immediately work with the parties to agree on effective solutions that contribute to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Palestine and Israel, to ending the blockade in the Gaza strip, and systematically addressing and ensuring accountability and prosecution for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
AWID calls on Israel to immediately end the military offensive (ground and air) in Gaza, to unconditionally and completely lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip and ensure prompt access of human rights observers into the Gaza strip.
AWID also calls on all Palestinian armed groups to end rocket fire into Israel and to agree to utilizing tunneling and smuggling systems only for humanitarian and civilian purposes.
We call for Egypt to open the Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid to enter and Palestinian people to leave the Gaza strip and to stop contributing to the closure of Gaza. Egypt should also ensure prompt access of human rights observers into the Gaza strip.
We call on all feminist and women’s rights organizations, and all people of conscience, to stand in solidarity with calls for a permanent ceasefire and peace. We echo the previous call by UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur Richard Falk for the boycott of business profiting from Israeli settlements in the occupied territory, and the recent calls by several Nobel laureates and others for an arms embargo on Israel.
Finally, AWID sends a message of solidarity to Palestinian and Israeli women human rights defenders and their organizations who for many years have contributed to upholding the struggle for peace and democracy, and who continue to struggle to advance human rights in the face of this ongoing crisis.
Voices of Palestinian women:
Voices of Israeli Civil Society, including Israeli Women voices
Who Profits: http://www.whoprofits.org
Alternative Information Center: http://www.alternativenews.org/english/
Regional & Global:
AWID statements and articles relating to the siege of Gaza:
 See "Occupied Palestinian Territory: Gaza Emergency - Humanitarian Snapshot", 22nd July 2014. UN OCHA oPt: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/humanitarian_Snapshot_23July2014_oPt_V1.pdf and see “Gaza under Siege: Naming the Dead,” Al-Jazeera English, for a regularly updated list of all Palestinians and Israelis killed in the latest round of violence.
 Op. Cit. 1.
 See reports and coverage on the blockade of Gaza and increasing violence against women from the UN OCHA’s IRIN News, and Al-Monitor. See the ILO’s latest report on labour market conditions in Gaza here.
 For example, the United Nations Human Rights Council agreed on Wednesday 23rd July to launch an international inquiry into violations that may have been committed during Israel's latest military offensive in Gaza
 See Take Action: Tell Companies - Stop Investing in Conflict, UN independent expert calls for boycott of businesses profiting from Israeli settlements
 See 64 public figures, 7 Nobel laureates, call for arms embargo on Israel http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/18/arms-trade-israel-attack-gaza