We are appalled by, and categorically condemn, the horrific attacks by Hamas against Israel on October 7, 2023. The indiscriminate violence unleashed on innocent civilians included the killing of well over 1,000, the injuring of many more, and the abduction of more than 200 Israelis of different ages and walks of life. There can be no justification for such actions.
We are appalled by, and categorically condemn, the devastation inflicted upon Gaza in response to the October 7 attacks. The ongoing Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation has resulted in thousands of killed and injured civilians – with numbers rising rapidly – in addition to the destruction or damaging of vast amounts of civilian infrastructure. There are now strong indications that some of these actions could constitute war crimes. They have resulted in predictably grave and wholly unacceptable humanitarian consequences for Palestinian civilians.
We consider it imperative to emphasize that the right of self-defence and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) are complementary. The legitimate exercise of self-defence does not absolve the obligation to comply fully with IHL.
We are disconcerted and dismayed by the tepid defence of IHL by some in the international community. Merely stating known legal obligations, while necessary, is not sufficient. The gravity of the situation demands a vocal denunciation of IHL violations, which are occurring in plain sight and in real time, regardless of who commits them. The international community must call for an immediate cessation and subsequent investigation of such violations.
We endorse the call by the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) for all parties to the conflict to stop the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. We also endorse the call by the Control Arms coalition for Arms Trade Treaty States Parties to halt the transfer of arms to parties to the conflict.
We support the right of Israelis to live in peace and recognize Israel’s legitimate security concerns. It is vital that Israelis not be subjected to a constant state of fear stemming from the persistent threat of armed attacks by groups such as Hamas or any other actor.
We support the right of Palestinians to live in peace. The ongoing illegal occupation by Israel, along with the steady expansion of illegal settlements in Palestinian territories, effectively constitutes apartheid and must come to an end. The occupation presents an insurmountable obstacle to peace and exacerbates wider regional instability.
We stand with the United Nations Secretary-General, not just in his strong condemnation of the October 7 attacks and recognition of the broader context in which they occurred, but in his calls for a ceasefire, which we consider an urgent measure to alleviate the wholesale suffering of civilians and minimize the risk of further escalation.
We call upon all parties to the conflict, as well as the international community, to prioritize the safety and well-being of civilians, who are bearing the brunt of the violence. To this end, we urge immediate humanitarian access to provide aid to those in need.
We recognize that the pursuit of lasting peace and the enjoyment of human rights must be the goal moving forward. Instead of perpetuating cycles of violence, it is essential to work towards a fair and just resolution that not only safeguards civilians but addresses the root causes of violence.