Caabu Press Release: Imposing a total siege on Gaza is a war crime. No politician should condone this.
12 October 2023
The Israeli government has imposed a “total siege” on the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza who live under Israeli occupation. This includes cutting off electricity, fuel, water and food. Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Galant stated: “I ordered a complete siege of the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel; everything is closed. We are at war with 'human animals' and act accordingly."
This followed the unjustifiable and shocking atrocities Hamas committed on 7 October killing over 1200 Israelis, mostly civilians including women and children.
A siege is collective punishment. Denying electricity, food, fuel to a civilian population is a war crime, not least as that Palestinian population lives under Israeli occupation meaning that as the occupying power it has a legal obligation for the welfare of these people.
The British Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly and the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, have both refused to condemn the imposition of this siege. They should do so at once and unequivocally. A failure to do so represents the condoning of war crimes. International law is very clear that one war crime does not justify another.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has stated that this could lead to more hospitals not being able to function and puts lives at risk: “As Gaza loses power, hospitals lose power, putting newborns in incubators and elderly patients on oxygen at risk. Kidney dialysis stops, and X-rays can’t be taken. Without electricity, hospitals risk turning into morgues.” The water situation in Gaza was in crisis prior to this latest Israeli bombardment, most of what is available was already unfit to drink. As the ICRC reports: “Families in Gaza are already having trouble accessing clean water. No parent wants to be forced to give a thirsty child dirty water.”
International law must be adhered to at all times by all parties and every politician has a duty to insist on that being the case. This includes insisting on the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure from the impact of hostilities. It also includes ending what is an illegal siege. It also means ensuring that Israeli military actions do not target civilians and civilian objects and are rooted in the principles of military necessity, distinction and proportionality.
Notes to editors:
1) See: ICRC statement, 12 October 2023 https://www.icrc.org/en/document/israel-and-occupied-territories-hospitals-risk-turning-morgues-without-electricity-hostages-must-be-released
2) For more information or interviews contact Chris Doyle on +44 (0)7968 040281.